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May 7

Reba Expresses Love to the Lord With “Oh, How I Love Jesus”

Reba Expresses Love to the Lord With "Oh, How I Love Jesus" 1
Jesus Christ (Photo by beliefnet.com)

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to speak its worth;
It sounds like music in mine ear,
The sweetest name on earth.

This is a hymn with the lyrics written by English priest Frederick Whitfield back in 1855. It was first published in leaflet form, then included in Whitfield’s Sacred Poems and Prose. Additionally, the music was set in a 19th Century American melody.

This song fuses a 19th-century English text with an American tune, most likely from the camp-meeting era. It is this combination that provides a lilting song that Christian congregations have enjoyed for over 150 years.

In stanza one of the hymn, the author focuses on the sound of Jesus’ name—”it sounds like music in my ear”—and the joy of singing “the sweetest name on earth.” The second stanza focuses on what the name of Jesus stands for—”a Savior’s love” who died for our sins. Stanza three personalizes the name of Jesus who “feels [our] deepest woe.”

The Power of Jesus’ Name

It is wonderful to hear Jesus’ name in songs, especially in Christian hymns/gospel songs. Hymns that focus on the name of Jesus are a significant subset of congregational song repertoire. The power of Jesus’ name is a theme that has many biblical sources.

A bible verse that expresses such is found in  Philippians 2:5-11:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Furthermore, many hymns follow this theme. For example, Gloria and William Gaither sang the line “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! There’s just something about that name” in one of their songs. Also, “Jesus! the name high over all,” and “Jesus! the name that charms our fears….” by Charles Wesley. In addition, Caroline Noel also sang “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow” in her song.

About the Songwriter, Frederick Whitfield

Reba Expresses Love to the Lord With "Oh, How I Love Jesus" 2
Frederick Whitfield (Photo by cyberhymnal.com)

Born in 1829 in Shropshire, England, Frederick Whitfield finished his education at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. After college, he was ordained in the Church of England. He became a curate of Otley, vicar of Kirkby-Ravensworth, senior curate of Greenwich and vicar of St. John’s Bexley. His appointment in 1875 to St. Mary’s Church in Hastings signaled the pinnacle of his career. A prolific writer, he left around 30 volumes of poetry and prose.

Reba’s Version

Reba Expresses Love to the Lord With "Oh, How I Love Jesus" 3
Reba McEntire’s Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope album cover (Photo by nashcountrydaily.com)

This hymn has been covered throughout the 20th century. One of the most prolific is Reba McEntire’s cover. She included the hymn in her gospel album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope, released in 2017.

McEntire’s soulful, full-band take on “Oh, How I Love Jesus” is one 10 classic hymns and gospel standards that make up the album’s first half. McEntire described the album in a Facebook Live video as “hymns and songs I grew up singing all my life.” The album’s second side features 10 new songs.

The following videos are about the hymn. In the first video, Reba talks about her gospel album which includes her version of the song. Then, in the second video, listen to her version of “Oh, How I Love Jesus.”

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Oh How I Love Jesus, Reba McEntire


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