How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

Representative Text

1 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
in a believer's ear!
It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds,
and drives away our fear.

2 It makes the wounded spirit whole
and calms the troubled breast;
'tis manna to the hungry soul,
and to the weary, rest.

3 O Jesus, shepherd, guardian, friend,
my Prophet, Priest, and King,
my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
accept the praise I bring.

4 How weak the effort of my heart,
how cold my warmest thought;
but when I see you as you are,
I'll praise you as I ought.

5 Till then I would your love proclaim
with every fleeting breath;
and may the music of your name
refresh my soul in death.

Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Author: John Newton

John Newton (b. London, England, 1725; d. London, 1807) was born into a Christian home, but his godly mother died when he was seven, and he joined his father at sea when he was eleven. His licentious and tumul­tuous sailing life included a flogging for attempted desertion from the Royal Navy and captivity by a slave trader in West Africa. After his escape he himself became the captain of a slave ship. Several factors contributed to Newton's conversion: a near-drowning in 1748, the piety of his friend Mary Catlett, (whom he married in 1750), and his reading of Thomas à Kempis' Imitation of Christ. In 1754 he gave up the slave trade and, in association with William Wilberforce, eventually became an ardent abolitionist. After becoming a tide… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: How sweet the name of Jesus sounds In a believer's ear
Title: How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds
Author: John Newton (1779)
Meter: 8.6.8.6
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain
Liturgical Use: Songs of Response

Notes

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Acts 4:12, Jer.30:17, Rom. 10:13, Joel 2:32, 1 John 4:18, Ps.147:3
st. 2 = John 16:20, John 6:31-33, Matt. 11:28
st. 3 = John 10:11, John 15:13-14, John 4:19, John 14:6, Heb.4:14, Rev. 17:14

With the heading “The Name of Jesus,” this text by John Newton (PHH 462) was pub1ished in the Olney Hymns (1779), where it was part of a group of hymns inspired by scriptural passages. The text is a fine example of Newton's evangelical piety and his skill at incorporating biblical phrases or allusions into his hymn texts. Of his original seven stanzas, 1, 2, and 5-7 are included.

Newton said that Song of Songs 1:3 ("your name is like perfume poured out") was the inspiration for this text: stanzas 1 and 2 compare perfume, with its sweet fragrance and healing properties, to the name of Jesus, which "soothes" and "heals." With its many biblical names for the Savior, stanza 3 evokes a variety of images about the person and ministry of Christ. The final stanzas confess that though our worship of Christ may be weak and imperfect, we will use our resources to praise him and testify to his love.

Liturgical Use:
Many occasions of worship, probably after the sermon as a hymn of testimony and encouragement.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988

Tune

ST. PETER (Reinagle)

Composed by Alexander R. Reinagle (b. Brighton, Sussex, England, 1799; d. Kidlington, Oxfordshire, England, 1877), ST. PETER was published as a setting for Psalm 118 in Reinagle's Psalm Tunes for the Voice and Pianoforte (c. 1836). The tune first appeared with Newton's text in Hymns Ancient and Mode…

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ORTONVILLE


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