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A precious name

The eighth day after Christmas, 1 Jan, was formerly observed as The Circumcision of Jesus with its focus on the ceremonial rite in Judaism.1 Recorded in Luke 2:21, this observance is celebrated under various names such as the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus in the Episcopal calendar; as the Name of Jesus in the Lutheran calendar; and as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in the Roman Catholic calendar. 2 Some other Protestants also remember the naming of Jesus on this date.

What’s in a name? This was the probing question Romeo asked in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. A name can say quite a lot about one’s identity and personality. For instance, the name Samuel means ‘asked of God’, Hannah means ‘grace’, Sarah means ‘princess’, and Naomi means ‘pleasantness’.3

Recorded in Matthew 1:21, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and disclosed to him the meaning of a precious name, “… and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (NIV)

‘Jesus’ was the name that meant everything to Lydia Baxter. Lydia was born in Petersburg, New York, on 8 Sep 1809. She married Colonel John C. Baxter and moved to New York City, where she worked tirelessly for Christ until a severe illness left her bedridden for much of her life.4Take the Name of Jesus with You’ was written by Mrs Baxter on her sickbed just four years before her death in 1874.

Despite her health problems, Mrs Baxter remained continually cheerful and patient. “I have a very special armour,” (stanza 2) she would tell her friends. “I have the name of Jesus. When the tempter tries to make me blue or despondent, I mentioned the name of Jesus, and he can’t get through to me anymore.”5

Through the centuries, the words of this hymn still bring joy and comfort (stanza 1) to countless Christians who carry the precious name of Jesus wherever they go.

So let us not simply carry our name cards, but take the name of Jesus with us throughout our lives and await the “joy of heaven” (chorus), “when our journey is complete” (stanza 4).


Take the Name of Jesus with You (The United Methodist Hymnal, #536)

  1. Take the name of Jesus with you,
    child of sorrow and of woe;
    it will joy and comfort give you;
    take it then, where’er you go.

Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heaven.
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heaven.

  1. Take the name of Jesus ever
    as a shield from every snare;
    if temptations round you gather,
    breathe that holy name in prayer. (Chorus)
  2. O the precious name of Jesus!
    How it thrills our souls with joy,
    when his loving arms receive us,
    and his songs our tongues employ! (Chorus)
  3. At the name of Jesus bowing,
    falling prostrate at His feet,
    King of kings in heaven we’ll crown him,
    when our journey is complete. (Chorus)

Words: Lydia Baxter, 1870 (Phil. 2:9-11)

Music: William H. Doane, 1871


1 Laurence Hull Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996), 118.

2 Hoyt L. Hickman, The New Handbook of the Christian Year: Based on the Revised Common Lectionary (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999), 78.

3 Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich: Kregel Publications, 1990), 39.

4 Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories. Book 2 (Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 125.

5 Ibid., 125.

Dr Yeo Teck Beng –
is a member of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.

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