Posted by: rcottrill | May 27, 2011

That Beautiful Name

Words: Jean Perry (1865-1935)
Music: Mabel Johnston Camp (b. Nov. 25, 1871; d. May 25, 1937)

Wordwise Hymns
Discovering the Songs of Christmas
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Little is known of Jean Perry, beyond her name, and the years of her birth and death. Perhaps, given her subject, the name of Jesus, it’s fitting that she remain in the background. Apparently, she passed the words she’d written to Mrs. Camp, in hopes that the latter could provide a suitable tune. (There’s an interesting story about that in the Wordwise Hymns link.)

I wonder what kind of responses you’d get if you took a kind of man-in-the-street poll of what people think of when they hear the word “Christmas.” What would come to the mind of many when they think of December 25th?

Perhaps, the first thought would be that it’s a holiday, time off work, or school. Others might think of the presents, the giving and receiving gifts. (And that might bring to mind tiring shopping trips, and facing those crowded stores.) Or the first thought might be of feasting and parties, with some traditional favourites such as roast turkey, Christmas cake, and more. But isn’t there something else? In the words of Jean Perry (CH-1):

I know of a name, a beautiful name,
That angels brought down to earth;
They whispered it low, one night long ago,
To a maiden of lowly birth.

That beautiful name, that beautiful name,
From sin has power to free us!
That beautiful name, that wonderful name,
That matchless name is Jesus!

But sadly, for many, the season rushes past without Him. Instead there are the decorations, especially the beautiful Christmas trees. Or, Christmas is a day to get together with family, a day especially for the children. Or possibly some would say they look forward to the Christmas programs, and concerts, and favourite Christmas movies.

Or, think of the names that are associated with Christmas for many. There’s Santa Claus, of course. And Dickens’s cranky miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. There’s Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Or what about George Bailey and the Scrooge-like Henry Potter, from the motion picture It’s a Wonderful Life?

All of this and more is associated with the season. And much of the songs and stories we know are fun, and have their place. But, as Christians, we’re well aware that often one name is left off the list, or at least crowded to one side. It is Christ-mas, after all, a celebration of His birth. Never mind that, technically, it seems more likely that Jesus was born in late September. It is still worthwhile, I believe, to have a day that focuses especially on the incarnation.

CH-2) I know of a name, a beautiful name,
That unto a Babe was given.
The stars glittered bright throughout that glad night,
And angels praised God in heav’n.

“You shall call His name JESUS,” Joseph was told (Matt. 1:21), as was Mary (Lk. 1:31). In His miraculous conception and His birth, “The Word [God the Son] became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:1, 14). To be a Christian is to be one “with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:2). And we look forward to the day when “every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 1:11).

CH-4) I love that blest name, that wonderful name,
Made higher than all in heaven.
’Twas whispered, I know, in my heart long ago
To Jesus my life I’ve giv’n.

No matter what secularism and political correctness try to dictate, it’s still true that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” Let’s do our part, both through our personal witness, and the programming of our churches, to keep Christ in Christmas!

1) What does Christmas mean to you?

2) What creative ways can you think of to help your family or your church to put more emphasis on the birth of Christ?

Wordwise Hymns
Discovering the Songs of Christmas
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Very good explanations, Robert! I am inspired!

    • Thanks! Drop by any time. 🙂


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