Tuesday Hymns: “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds”

JOHN NEWTON, Clerk
Once an infidel and libertine
A servant of slaves in Africa,
Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour
JESUS CHRIST,
restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach
the Gospel which he had long laboured to destroy.
He ministered,
Near sixteen years in Olney, in Bucks,
And twenty-eight years in this Church.

The preceding epitaph was written by John Newton in preparation for his own death and is found on a plaque where he was first buried in London in 1807 (He and his wife were reinterred in 1897 at Olney). He was a voluminous writer of hymns which include the beloved, Amazing Grace, and my personal favorite, Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder. Another of his hymns, which is not as well known, is our Tuesday Hymn for this week, How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds. It was the next to the last stanza which particularly caught my attention, “but when I see Thee as Thou art, I’ll praise Thee as I ought.” It reminds us that the key to understanding Christ is found in the Scriptures. It is not Jesus, as I perceive Him to be, or Jesus, as I desire Him to be, but Jesus as the Scriptures say that He is, which is true. It is the Jesus of the Bible that justifies, sanctifies, and will one day glorify His elect children.

The hymn is usually sung to the tune, St. Peter (Reinagle).

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

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

Dear Name! the rock on which I build, my shield and hiding place, my never-failing treas’ry filled with boundless stores of grace;

Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend, my Prophet, Priest, and King. My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought; but when I see thee as thou art, I’ll praise thee as I ought.

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

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3 Comments

  1. Sandra A. said,

    February 9, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    Glad to see you are posting again (for several days and I am just now checking). All the posts this week have been helpful to me where my walk in the LORD is suffering.
    Today’s reminds me to praise and rest, both of which are challenging to me.
    I really like “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder” also.

  2. rcottrill said,

    July 24, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Enjoyed your insightful post. Today is the 285th anniversary of Newton’s birth, which is one reason your comments caught my eye. I might quibble mildly with the idea that “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” is not well known. Nothing is as familiar as “Amazing Grace,” of course. But the former hymn is still sung a lot. Your “key to understanding Christ” is right on. Thanks for that.

    If you enjoy reading about our hymns and their authors, I invite you to check out my daily blog on the subject, Wordwise Hymns.


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