Hymn of the day July 2021

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds: Marylynn Rouse

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
John Newton (1725-1807)
Public Domain

Olney Hymns, Book 1, Hymn 57

Tune: ST PETER (Reinagle), Alexander Robert Reinagle (1799-1877)
Public Domain

Marylynn Rouse photo

Marylynn Rouse

John Newton portrait

The name of JESUS
Song of Solomon 1:3

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 treasury filled
With boundless stores of grace.

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain
Altho' with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain
And I am owned a child.

Jesus!  my Shepherd, Husband, 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.

Reflection: Marylynn Rouse, The John Newton Project www.johnnewton.org

Newton’s sermon notes below for Sunday morning 3 March 1765 illustrate how this hymn matches the text above it in Olney Hymns: Song of Solomon 1:3 Thy name is as ointment poured forth.

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Reflection: Marylynn Rouse, The John Newton Project www.johnnewton.org

A chief part of this little book is an attempt to answer that question: What is thy beloved more than another beloved? The unbelieving world discover[reveal] much of the enormity and ignorance of their hearts in this: that one of the greatest quarrels they have with the people of God, is for their having such high thoughts and so much to say about the LJC[Lord Jesus Christ]. They are ready to say, Can you not be content with fearing God and keeping his commandments, without so much talk of Christ? This makes the believer sigh, Alas that you did but know him too. If you did, surely you would think you could not speak enough of him.

I knew nothing about the fear of God. I never had a hearty desire to keep his commandments, till I began to know a little of Christ. I was starving and he fed me, I was sick and he visited me, I was naked, destitute of all good, and he clothed me with his own righteousness; I was shut up in the prison of sin and he came and burst open the doors and set me at liberty. How great is his goodness; how great is his beauty. He is the chief among ten thousands and altogether lovely. The soul ranges as it were through the whole creation to find some worthy similitudes of her Lord but all are scanty and insufficient.

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!

Let us present consider this in my text. We shall enquire:

  • What is meant by his name
  • Why compared to ointment
  • How this ointment is poured forth

Thy name

This in general means his person (as Revelation 3:4) or rather the manifestation of his person, that by which he is known. The name of Christ includes the whole revelation concerning him, who he is, what he has done - all that we read of his love, his power and his offices make a part of his great and glorious name. The soul that is taught by the Word and Spirit of God to understand a little of these things receives such a sense of love and joy that the very sound of his name is sweeter than music to the ears, sweeter than honey to the taste.

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!

Dear name! the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place…

Jesus my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest and King;
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End…

This name compared to ointment

These were more frequent in use and many of more costly composition than common amongst us. Some were healing, applied to wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. Now the sinner when he is awakened and comes to himself, finds himself like the man (Luke 10) stripped and wounded and half dead. Jesus like the Good Samaritan comes with an eye of pity, to pour in the ointment of his name. This is a certain and the only cure for the wounds of sin. Many can witness to this. How when they began to feel their misery and see their danger, they made use of many means but found them all physicians of no value. But this ointment made them whole.

It makes the wounded spirit whole
And calms the troubled breast;

Some were cordial and reviving. The believing soul is subject to fainting - it has but little strength and meets many discouragements - but is relieved from time to time by the good savour of this ointment. Ointments were used in feasts (Luke 7:46. Hence Psalm 23:5). And the name of Jesus is a precious banquet to the believing soul.

’Tis manna to the hungry soul
And to the weary rest.

How poured forth?

We read (Mark 14) that the woman brought precious ointment in a box - and when she broke the box, then and not before, the whole house was filled with its fragrance. Thus the grace and virtue of this name was confined and known but to few while our Lord conversed upon earth - but afterwards it was poured forth when he suffered.

The precious vessel that contained this precious ointment was broken upon the Cross - the savour of his name, his love, his blood, poured out from every wound [in] his sacred body. See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingling down. From that hour it was quickly spread and diffused far and near. And here we are still to look for it. When we desire a new savour of this ointment, let us turn our eyes, our thoughts to Golgotha. To behold him by faith as he hung bleeding and dying, with outstretched arms inviting our regards and saying See if any sorrow was like to my sorrow. This is:

  • a sovereign balm for every wound
  • a cordial for our care

It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds
And drives away his fear.

[The] preached gospel was appointed for this end. And everything that bears the name of preaching – if it does not diffuse the knowledge of this good ointment – is dry and tedious, unsavoury and unprofitable. The scene of our Lord's life was confined to a few places and it was a long while ago – but the ointment thus poured out has reached to distant lands and ages. Countless thousands have experienced its efficacy, and blessed be God, it is still fresh and still flowing.

The Lord has likewise peculiar seasons of pouring it into the hearts of his people. These are called times of refreshment (Acts 3:19).

And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!

Prayer [John Newton to Thomas Haweis, Liverpool, 23 January 1763]

May the Lord our Saviour ever fill your heart with a warm sense of his love, and make your tongue like the pen of a ready writer to proclaim that name which is as ointment poured forth, to heal and revive the hearts of sinners. Blessed be God for his unspeakable gift!


Resources:

See the full sermon here: www.johnnewton.org/cant1v3

Acknowledgements:

John Newton’s sermon on Song of Solomon 1:3 comes from his notebook No. 17 owned by Cowper & Newton Museum, Olney, Bucks, transcribed by Marylynn Rouse, The John Newton Project.

Princeton University, CO192, Letters of John Newton to Rev Thomas Haweis, f21

Newton’s quote ‘See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingling down’ comes from Isaac Watts, When I survey the wondrous cross.

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