Posted by: rcottrill | August 26, 2013

Blessed Be the Name

Words: William Henry Clark (b. _____, 1854; d. _____)
Music: Ralph Erskine Hudson (b. July 12, 1843; d. June 14, 1901)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Hymn historian William J. Reynolds (Hymns of Our Faith, p. 139) states that the anonymous refrain of this gospel song was likely of nineteenth century camp meeting origin. It came to be attached to various hymns. Ralph Hudson himself took Charles Wesley’s O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, and replaced the second and fourth lines of each stanza with “Blessed be the name….”

O for a thousand tongues to sing,
Blessed be the name of the Lord!
The glories of my God and King,
Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Blessèd be the name! Blessèd be the name!
Blessèd be the name of the Lord!
Blessèd be the name! Blessèd be the name!
Blessèd be the name of the Lord!

This is typical of Hudson’s tinkering with standard hymns, and in my view it’s often not an improvement. The use of the refrain with Clark’s words appeared in Hymns of the Christian Life, in 1891, where the arrangement of the tune was credited to William Kirkpatrick (1838-1921).

The actual phrase, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” is found in the Bible three times (NKJV).

¤ In Job 1:21, it’s that suffering saint’s faith-filled response to the trials he is going through. “He said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’”

¤ In Psalm 113:1-2, it’s part of a great exclamation of praise: “Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD! Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore!”

¤ In Daniel chapter 2, the prophet is a slave in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. There he is called upon by the king to reveal a forgotten dream and explain its meaning. “Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His.’” (Dan. 2:19-20)

To these may be added many variations such as: “Blessed be the Lord” (Ps. 41:13), and “Bless the Lord” (Ps. 103:1). The Hebrew word translated “blessed” or “bless” is barak. It means to kneel (as in reverent submission before a sovereign), or to offer praise.

There are many reasons why we should praise the Lord, many things for which we can thank and praise Him. This gospel song suggests a few.

CH-1. Though God is supremely above us in every way, He gave His Son to die for our sins (Jn. 3:16), that we might be redeemed and receive the gift of life everlasting. That involved the willing condescension of Christ (Phil. 2:8).

CH-1) All praise to Him who reigns above
In majesty supreme,
Who gave His Son for man to die,
That He might man redeem!

Blessèd be the name! Blessèd be the name!
Blessèd be the name of the Lord!
Blessèd be the name! Blessèd be the name!
Blessèd be the name of the Lord!

CH-2. Having completed the work of redemption, Christ ascended into heaven once more, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. There He is honoured and glorified, both for who He is and for what He accomplished (Phil. 2:9-11). “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” (Rev. 5:12).

CH-3 and CH-4 give us some of the titles for Christ that are in themselves a means of glorifying Him, as well as showing what He has done and will yet do. He is the Redeemer (Job 19:25-26), our Saviour (Tit. 2:13), the true Friend of man (Lk. 7:34). Though this last term is applied critically by the Jewish leaders, it is true and precious to believers (cf. Jn. 15:15). He also is the Counselor, and “the mighty Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6-7)…whose reign shall never cease (Dan. 7:13-14; Lk. 1:31-33).

CH-4) His name shall be the Counselor,
The mighty Prince of Peace,
Of all earth’s kingdoms Conqueror,
Whose reign shall never cease.

1) What are some reasons you are praising the Lord today?

2) What other great hymns of praise do you know and use?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

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