O how I love Jesus
by Frederick Whitfield
There is a Name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in my ear,
The sweetest Name on earth.
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!
It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner’s perfect plea.
It tells me of a Father’s smile
Beaming upon His child;
It cheers me through this little while,
Through desert, waste, and wild.
It tells me what my Father hath
In store for every day,
And though I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.
It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe;
Who in each sorrow bears
A part that none can bear below.
It bids my trembling heart rejoice.
It dries each rising tear.
It tells me, in a “still small voice,”
To trust and never fear.
Jesus, the Name I love so well,
The Name I love to hear:
No saint on earth its worth can tell,
No heart conceive how dear.
This Name shall shed its fragrance still
Along this thorny road,
Shall sweetly smooth the rugged hill
That leads me up to God.
And there with all the blood-bought throng,
From sin and sorrow free,
I’ll sing the new eternal song
Of Jesus’ love for me.
It was the breakfast hour in the Whitfield home, and every family member but Frederick was at the table. When he finally appeared, Frederick seemed
somewhat glum. One of his sisters, aware that verse-writing always
stimulated her brother and brought a sparkle to his eyes, said, "O Fred, there
is a Name I love to hear." Very quickly he responded, "I love to speak its
worth." Another sister added, "That sounds like music in my ear." Fred
exuberantly exclaimed, "It is the sweetest name on earth." This joyful
exchange of greeting forms stanza 1. Frederick added four additional stanzas.
Hymn-menders of later date added the other stanzas, but most hymnbooks
use only four or five of the eight stanzas.
"There Is a Name I Love to Hear" was first published in leaflet form in 1855.
Eventually, it was translated into several languages and has been included in
numerous hymnbooks. Some say that Whitfield's repetition of "Oh, how I
love Jesus" as the refrain was designed to acknowledge his sisters'
collaboration on the hymn, while others claim that the refrain was not added until many years later by another hymn writer.
This simple song exalts the Lord Jesus Christ in an unusual way. Indirectly it
exalts the written Word, for it is only through the study of the written Word
that we gain knowledge of the Living Word. The hymn presents the Christian
life from the standpoint of redemption and the Christian walk. Stanza 1
reflects the author's deep interest in music and his reverence for the Name of
his Lord. Stanza 2 refers to redemption, saying that the precious blood of
Jesus is the sinner's matchless plea. Stanzas 3 through 6 liken the Christian to
a child who is encouraged by his Father's smile to face a cold, hard world
with bravery and trust. Stanza 7 describes the Christian life as a thorny road
and a rugged hill, suggesting that the Name of Jesus sheds fragrance on the
road. The final stanza concludes that no saint on earth, however lofty his
thoughts, can fully describe the value of the Name the author loves to hear.
Frederick Whitfield was born in Threapwood, Shropshire, England, on
January 7, 1829. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. After his
ordination in the Church of England he served various parishes and also as
Secretary of the Irish Church Missions. He had more than thirty books of
religious prose and verse to his credit. Whitfield died on September 13, 1904,
in Croyden, England.
The tune BELMONT, to which this hymn reportedly was originally sung,
without refrain, was first published in the first volume of Sacred Melodies
Adapted to the Best English Poets (1812), a collection by William Gardiner
(1770-1853). Though some have attributed the tune to Samuel Webb, Sr.,
Samuel Webb, Jr., and Mozart, the evidence points to Gardiner as the
composer. The arrangement currently used dates from 1859 and was done by
J. Bentley. BELMONT lends a serene dignity to the text, a loftiness that does
not come across when the words are sung, as they usually are, to the
traditional, anonymous tune OH HOW I LOVE JESUS. The latter, a lilting
tune, typical of many nineteenth-century folk songs of the camp meeting type,
has been sung with various texts, including Newton's "Amazing Grace" and
Watts' "Alas, and Did My Saviour Bleed." These hymns, like "There Is a
Name I Love to Hear," when sung to this tune, use the text of the refrain, "Oh,
How I Love Jesus."