Year B—Transfiguration—At the Name of Jesus

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess him King of glory now:
‘Tis the Father’s pleasure we should call him Lord,
Who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

Humbled for a season, to receive a name
From the lips of sinners unto whom he came,
Faithfully he bore it spotless to the last,
Brought it back victorious, when from death he passed:

Bore it up triumphant with its human light,
Through all ranks of creatures, to the central height,
To the throne of Godhead, to the Father’s breast;
Filled it with the glory of that perfect rest.

Have you ever read The Horse and His Boy in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia?  Toward the end of it, Shasta learns that, although he’s been raised a poor fisherman’s boy, he is in fact the son of king Lune and heir to Archenland’s throne.  It’s just one of many such stories in which the unexpected fellow of humble home, from the backwaters of nowhere, winds up being the son of the king.  Why do we love that sort of story so much?  One reason may be that it reflects an important part of the True Story—the Great Story—in which Jesus, a carpenter’s son from Nazareth, winds up being the long-awaited and finally-exalted King.

It’s just that theme which Caroline Noel captures in her hymn, At the Name of Jesus; which, like Luther’s We All Believe in One True God, takes its cue from an early creed.  Caroline looks to an even earlier creed in her hymn, though, than Luther looks to in his: Caroline looks to that creed which St. Paul quotes in his epistle to the Philippians, 2:6-11 (you could open a Bible and recite that creed together, right now).

Meant to be a processional hymn for Ascension, At the Name of Jesus celebrates the ascended Christ’s exaltation—the reward of His humility.  Let us, like Christ, endure any hardship, not being served but serving, remembering that with God, the least shall be greatest, the last shall be first, the one who gives up most will have the most returned to him, and that the one who serves will be given authority.

Contributed by Scott Cline

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