This hymn, based on Matthew 19:14, was written in 1972 by English-born composer Philip Green (1911-1982), as the Introit to a Mass setting which he was asked to make suitable for both adults and children.
The setting was intended to focus on a setting of the Prayer of St Francis, which is the Communion hymn. But Suffer Little Children became very popular in its own right, reaching number three on the Irish charts in September 1973, and it was widely used in Ireland and around the world in the 1970s - even reaching New Zealand.
Although the chorus words are the same as the 1863 Stephen Foster song of the same name, the tune and verses are quite different.
The original recording, featuring Canon Sydney McEwan, celebrant, and Bernadette Greevy and the Cork Children’s Choir, is now available on iTunes.
The original sheet music was published by Belwyn Mills Music Ltd, who are associated with Aldred Music in the US, and Faber Music in the UK. No current source of published sheet music (new or second-hand) has been found.