Posted by: rcottrill | November 11, 2016

His Name Is Jesus

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Words: Hannah Kilham Burlingham (b. Mar. 17, 1842; d. May 15, 1901)
Music: a “Glee,” by John Wall Callcott (b. Nov. 20, 1766; d. May 15, 1821)

Wordwise Hymns (Hannah Burlingham)
The Cyber Hymnal (Hannah Burlingham)

Note: Hannah Burlingham was, for years, associated with the Plymouth Brethren, in England. She wrote dozens of fine hymns, often using simple words to express her faith and ardent feelings. This one is titled His Name Is Jesus.

John Callcott was a pupil of composer Franz Josef Haydn, and is considered a master of the “glee” format (a short song in parts, usually sung unaccompanied). It’s believed by scholars that he wrote the above mentioned tune for a love song by playwright and poet Ben Jonson. Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes was written in 1616. The secular ballad, in itself, is beautiful, but this is a superb tune, now separated from its secular roots by four centuries, and it’s worthy of more sanctified words.

You can hear the tune played–much too fast–on the Cyber Hymnal, here, and print off the music score. For a more sedate pacing of the original love song, you can hear the great Irish tenor John McCormack sing it in a 1910 recording, here.

It’s an old playground response to name-calling: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, / But names will never hurt me.”

Some form of that couplet has been around at least since the mid-nineteenth century. However, we all know it’s a pitifully weak retort. It’s simply not true. Name-calling can be hurtful in the extreme.

“What’s in a name?” asks Juliet, in Shakespeare’s play. Her argument is it doesn’t matter that Romeo’s last name is Montague, and he’s part of a family with whom her Capulet kin are feuding. She’s certain love can conquer all. But she soon learns that a name can be either a bridge or a barrier in human relationships.

There’s a book on my desk as I write called What’s in a Name?, apparently taking its title from Juliet’s words. It’s a guide for parents naming a new baby, providing dozens of suggestions, and giving an explanation of the meaning behind the names–though I’m not particularly impressed with the accuracy of some of its definitions. There are other books that give similar information, and do it more precisely and reliably.

But to return to Juliet for a moment, there was a clear difference between what Romeo’s last name meant to her personally, and what it meant to her family. For her, Romeo Montague identified the young man with whom she’d fallen in love, and for her that love triumphed over all the hatred seething between the opposing clans.

This matter of perspective comes into play with regard to the name “Jesus.” To those who do not know Him and love Him as their Lord and Saviour, it’s apparently just a word, perhaps one they hear used in a profane way every day. But, like the fictional Juliet with her Romeo, our love for Christ gives us, as Christians, a ever deepening appreciation for His name. When someone uses His sacred name as a swear word, it is distressing to those who honour and serve Him.

As Peter announced to his hearers on the Day of Pentecost, “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord [Ruler] and Christ [Messiah]” (Acts 2:36). And John writes, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world” (I Jn. 4:14). That’s a big reason why the name Jesus means so much to so many.

Used well over nine hundred times in the New Testament, Jesus is the Greek form of the earthly name of the Son of God. The name means “Jehovah (or Yahweh) is Salvation.” In the Old Testament, the Hebrew parallel is Yeshuah, often translated simply by the word salvation.

Salvation…Yeshuah…Jesus. With that realization, many Old Testament uses of the word take on a deeper significance.

“I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation [Your Yeshuah, Your Jesus]” (Ps. 13:5). “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation [Your Yeshuah, Your Jesus] say continually, ‘Let God be magnified!’” (Ps. 70:4).

And see what God the Father says to the Son: “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation [My Yeshuah, My Jesus] to the ends of the earth” (Isa. 49:6).

Compare that with Simeon’s words when he held the Baby Jesus: “He took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel’” (Lk. 2:28-32).

1) His name is Jesus! None beside
Can do the sinner good;
Far off was I, but Jesus died,
And I have peace with God.
His name is dearer to me now
Than every name beside;
All glories beam around the brow
Of Jesus crucified!

2) The Holy One, who knew no sin,
God made Him sin for me;
The Saviour died my soul to win,
He lives, and I am free.
His precious blood alone availed
To wash my sins away;
Through weakness He o’er hell prevailed,
Through death He won the day.

1) What does the name “Jesus” mean to you personally?

2) Why do you think His name has become a common swear word?

Wordwise Hymns (Hannah Burlingham)
The Cyber Hymnal (Hannah Burlingham)


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