Posted by: rcottrill | August 16, 2017

Jesus, the Name High Over All

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Words: Charles Wesley (b. Dec. 18, 1707; d. Mar. 29, 1788)
Music: Gräfenberg, by Johann Crüger (b. Apr. 9, 1598; d. Feb. 23, 1662)

Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley born, converted)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Charles was the hymn writing brother of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement. He wrote more than six thousand hymns, with quite a few still in use. Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, Jesus, Lover of My Soul, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, and many more, came from his pen. There were actually twenty-two stanzas of the present hymn originally. Most hymnals seem to use only six or eight.

It has been the traditional call of an officer of the court since the Middle Ages. “Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honourable Judge So-and-So are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now in session.” The twice repeated “Oyez” is not a form of “Oh ye.” It means, “Hear! Listen!” It’s a command for silence and the attention of those present.

Standing before the court may be a guilty individual whose crime has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. “Guilty as charged!” No clever lawyer has been able to wipe away the stain on his record. The evidence has shown clearly that he committed the crime, and now the judge will pronounce the sentence.

On the other hand, the one before the court may be there to appeal his innocence. There has been an accusation made, but the individual did not do what is claimed. Overwhelming evidence in his favour has been presented. In that case, the judge will support the rights of the accused and rule quite differently. “Not guilty!” The person is free to go his way with no charge against his record.

There is a real sense in which, when a pastor or missionary preaches a sermon, they are calling, “Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before God, the Judge of all, are admonished to draw near and give their attention.” Many times the Bible calls for silence before a holy God. For example:

“The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Hab. 2:20).

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps. 46:10).

“Be silent in the presence of the Lord God” (Zeph. 1:7).

We are to give heed to His Word when it’s proclaimed. It may be a word of comfort and assurance for those have put their faith in Christ. Their sins are forgiven, and they stand guiltless before the Lord (Jn. 5:24). Or, it may be a sharp word of condemnation for those who have sins charged against them in the court of heaven (Rom. 3:23). In either case, “Oyez! Oyez!” Listen to what God says.

On August 6th, 1774, Charles Wesley was preaching at a church in Cornwall, England. Even though we consider him a hymn writer, he did more than that. On this particular occasion Charles was preaching, and he spoke boldly about the sins that had corrupted the community. He condemned the drunken revels of the people, urging them to repent and put their faith in Christ.

But these were rough times. Suddenly a man stood and began to curse and swear, and contradict the message from God’s Word. Wesley was quite used to people trying to disrupt the meetings. He sternly exclaimed, “Who is he that pleads for the devil?” And he proceeded to expose the blasphemer’s sins with such spiritual power that the man ran from the church.

Clearly there are times when the “soft answer [that] turns away wrath” (Prov. 15:1) is needed. But other times, as John the Baptist (Lk. 3:7-8), the Lord Jesus (Jn. 8:44), and Peter (Acts 8:20-21) illustrate, the strong, direct approach is called for.

After the man had gone, Wesley offered a prayer for him. And it was this incident that inspired him to write the hymn Jesus, the Name High Over All.

CH-1) Jesus! the name high over all,
In hell or earth or sky;
Angels and men before it fall,
And devils fear and fly.

CH-2) Jesus! the name to sinners dear,
The name to sinners giv’n;
It scatters all their guilty fear,
It turns their hell to heav’n.

CH-3) Jesus! the prisoner’s fetters breaks,
And bruises Satan’s head;
Power to strengthless souls it speaks,
And life into the dead.

CH-6) Thee I shall constantly proclaim,
Though earth and hell oppose;
Bold to confess Thy glorious name
Before a world of foes.

1) How did you handle someone who angrily differed with you about your faith?

2) What have you learned from this post, or others on the Wordwise Hymns site?

Wordwise Hymns (Charles Wesley born, converted)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. That is an interesting question that no one has asked before! I am the only Christian in my family (so far). I have 4 siblings and on 2 occasions they have sort of “ganged up” on me to try and turn me away from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. At first it was just trying to sort of lure me away and using what they thought were clever arguments. But the second time it became harsher and more dogmatic. I never cease to be amazed at just how judgmental and legalistic the unsaved person can be. Another family member got exasperated with me once as I was sharing truth with them and they hit me over the head with a large sofa pillow. Not a small throw pillow but part of the sofa back. It was heavy and it bent my neck too far, really straining it. I’ve also been sneered at and rejected. One by one they have all gone away. But I continue to pray for them, knowing that the Lord delights in mercy and saves the worst, for He saved even me!

    It never occurred to me to be confrontational like Charles Wesley was, but it would have been appropriate on certain occasions. Once some family members were trying to help one that was addicted to drugs and suicidal. Someone told her that she should go to AA. She said, but I’m an atheist, isn’t that a religious group? The one who had suggested it said oh, AA is cool, you can make anything your higher power, even your dresser! I just about fell out of my chair when I heard that!


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