Home Worship Planning History of Hymns History of Hymns: 'O How He Loves You and Me'

History of Hymns: 'O How He Loves You and Me'

By C. Michael Hawn

Kurt Kaiser 72px
Kurt Kaiser

“O How He Loves You and Me”
by Kurt Kaiser
The Faith We Sing, 2108

O how he loves you and me!
O how he loves you and me!
He gave his life,
What more could he give?
O how he loves you,
O how he loves me;
O how he loves you and me!*

*© 1975 Word Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kurt Kaiser (1934–2018) was a prolific composer with a creative imagination. “Through the years I have been in the habit of keeping my ears tuned to things that people say, a phrase that may give me an idea for a song. I’ll write it down quickly. I may come across a musical refrain or a lyrical idea that I can file away in a special place in my office. Occasionally, I’ll pull these things out and look at them” (cited in Terry, 2002, pp. 136–137). Such was the case with “O How He Loves You and Me.” Kaiser came across this simple, yet profound, phrase in 1975 from an earlier note he had made to himself, deciding to add a melody to it. Within ten minutes, Kaiser completed the text and music. He named the tune PATRICIA after his wife (Reynolds, 1991, p. 203–204).

When Kaiser sent the song off to the copyright office in Washington, D.C., his request for copyright was refused because the song did not contain enough original lyrics. After a couple of days, Kaiser wrote a companion stanza beginning, “Jesus to Calv’ry did go.” This time the song’s copyright was granted, although the song often appears in collections with only the original first stanza.

Perhaps the most prominent scripture that undergirds the song is John 3:16. The closely related text, 1 John 4:10, may have also served as an inspiration: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (KJV). However, the words also echo Romans 5:7–8: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (KJV).

The most published of Kurt Kaiser’s songs, it has appeared in more than thirty collections, mostly in evangelical, African American, and Latinx communities. Prominent evangelical composers of the later twentieth century included it in collections they prepared. Among the first was Praise! Our Songs and Hymns (1979), compiled by John W. Peterson (1921–2006), followed by Hymns for the Family of God (1976), edited by composer and church musician Fred Bock (1939–1998), Favorites Number 9 (1981), the popular Singspiration Music series edited by Texas composer Don Wyrtzen (b. 1942), and The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration (1986) edited by Baptist music editor and composer Tom Fettke (b. 1941). The first African American hymnal to include the song was the Church of God in Christ collection Yes, Lord! (1982). Two Spanish-language translations have been prepared: “Cuánto nos ama Jesús” (1982) by Salomón Mussiett, and “Cuánto Jesús te ama a ti” (c. 2010) by Milton Peverini (1932–2021).

Kurt Frederic Kaiser was born in Chicago. He received his musical education from the American Conservatory of Music and Northwestern University (B.M., 1958; M.M., 1959). According to his website, kurtkaiser.com, Mr. Kaiser “joined Word, Inc., in 1959 as director of artists and repertoire, and later became vice president and director of music for Word. Mr. Kaiser has arranged and produced albums for many gifted artists, among them Kathleen Battle, Diane Bish, Ernie Ford, Hale & Wilder, Larnelle Harris, Jerome Hines, Burl Ives, Ken Medema, Stephen Nielson, Christopher Parkening, George Beverly Shea, Joni Eareckson Tada, Ethel Waters, and Anne Martindale Williams.” Mr. Kaiser maintained his relationship with Word, Inc. until 1989.

Kurt Kaiser received many honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) for his contributions to the Christian music industry (1992); an honorary Doctor of Sacred Music degree from Trinity College in Illinois; and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Baylor University. In 1993, his album Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs was recognized with a Dove Award. In 2001, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and was placed in the Hall of Honor by the Christian Booksellers Association. The Faithfulness in Service Award was presented to him in 2003. In 2011, he received the Hines Sims Award, named for the editor of the Baptist Hymnal (1956), one of the most successful hymnals in the history of the denomination.

He resided with his wife, Pat, in Waco, Texas. They had four grown children and ten grandchildren. Kurt Kaiser was an active churchman, serving as a founding member of DaySpring Baptist Church in Waco, offering an alternative vision for Baptist communities.

While known primarily for his youth musicals, Mr. Kaiser was an accomplished pianist who composed music for a variety of performing media in varied styles. He composed more than sixty hymn texts and tunes, the most famous of which are “O How He Loves You and Me” (1975) and “Pass It On” (1969).


William J. Reynolds, “O How He Loves You and Me,” Handbook for The Baptist Hymnal, edited by Jere Adams (Nashville: Convention Press, 1992), 203–204.

Lindsay Terry, The Sacrifice of Praise (Nashville: Integrity Publishers, 2002).

C. Michael Hawn, D.M.A., F.H.S., is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music and Adjunct Professor, and Director, Doctor of Pastoral Music Program at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

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