"At the Name of Jesus"
The name of Jesus, Yeshua, means God saves. That denotes more than what God does: It shows who God is and who Jesus is. “At the name of Jesus,” says Paul, “every knee shall bow,” in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. A stunning thing to say! Thence comes the venerable tradition of meditating on the name of Jesus, in prayer and song, which brings us to our Hymn of the Week, Caroline Noel’s At the Name of Jesus.
Noel’s short lines of six and five syllables allowed Ralph Vaughan Williams, who composed the melody King’s Weston specifically for this hymn, to linger on the final stress of every other line, for six beats. Fill your lungs for those! The effect is stately, mighty, royal. We can well imagine it as a coronation:
At the name of Jesus Every knee shall bow, Every tongue confess Him King of glory now; ’Tis the Father’s pleasure We should call Him Lord, Who from the beginning Was the mighty Word.
“Who is this King of glory?” asks the Psalmist. “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” Noel has combined this verse with Paul’s paean from Philippians and the astounding revelation that begins the gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Notice that the name Jesus and the title mighty Word crown the stanza, beginning and end: The two are one. The now of our time is placed within the existence of the Word from the beginning.
In the next stanza (alas, often omitted) we turn to the beginning of creation:
At His voice creation Sprang at once to sight, All the Angel faces, All the hosts of light, Thrones and dominations, Stars upon their way, All the heavenly orders In their great array.
“For by him,” says Paul, “were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.” Notice the crown for this stanza: creation and great array. All is in order, all under the governance of the providential Lord.
The next two stanzas declare the humility of God the Son, the Word, who humbled Himself that He might be named by sinners as their Savior:
Humbled for a season To receive a name From the lips of sinners Unto whom He came, Faithfully He bore it Spotless to the last, Brought it back victorious When from death He passed:
Bore it up triumphant With its human light, Through all ranks of creatures, To the central height, To the throne of Godhead, To the Father’s breast; Filled it with the glory Of that perfect rest.
Noel compresses the life and death and resurrection of Jesus into one image, that of carrying a name: God saves. He had a name already, the name of God, but now He humbles Himself to receive a name from the lips of sinners, from us, who are unworthy to name Him! Yet Jesus takes that sinner-bestowed name and bears it, as He bore our infirmities, as He bore the Cross. He passes through death with that name unstained, and bears it in triumph through all those ranks of creatures that He Himself created, all the way to the breast of the Father. Notice again the crowning words: Christ is triumphant – as a conquering hero in parade – and enjoys the perfect rest of God.
Then Noel turns toward us, to apply the name of Jesus to our own troubled lives:
Name Him, brothers, name Him With love strong as death, But with awe and wonder, And with bated breath; He is God the Savior, He is Christ the Lord, Ever to be worshipped, Trusted, and adored.
In your hearts enthrone Him; There let Him subdue All that is not holy, All that is not true: Crown Him as your captain In temptation’s hour; Let His will enfold you In its light and power.
The very Name of Jesus is a prayer, and we utter it with a catch in our breath, dwelling upon it because of what He has done, and more, because of who He is. To name Him is to adore Him. It is to enthrone Him in our hearts, that He might cleanse them and make of them a worthy dwelling place.
The final stanza takes us to the end of time, and the second coming of Jesus. The poetry is tremendous, and the message is urgent: Jesus shall come again, but even now he is crowned with the wreaths of empire, and we confess him the King of Glory:
Brothers, this Lord Jesus Shall return again, With His Father’s glory, With His angel train; For all wreaths of empire Meet upon His brow, And our hearts confess Him King of glory now.
The text for this week’s hymn is adapted from from Professor Esolen’s book, Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church.
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Jesus- the name given by the angel to St.Joseph. Depending on what source is referenced the name is reportedly noted from about 300 to 900 times in the scriptures. There are 51 names most of which are titles of Jesus that I have identified by my limited readings.
The Holy Name Society , the Golden Arrow Prayer, the Litany of the Holy Name , Holy Name Cathedral, and the Holy Name Churches, all give honor and glory to His Holy Name. The Orthodox "Jesus Prayer " is well known and recited by the faithful repeatedly during their daily activities. The second commandment must be observed too since it pertains to " The Holy Name."
St. Bernardine of Siena, pray for us!