August 23, 2010 at 8:49 pm
"July 1974" is the date I have in my notes for writing "Jesus". My conversion experience was that past Christmas, so I had "pranced in a new dance" for about six months. I was going to Mass every morning that summer and working for the city. It was right around this time that the miracle happened with the rain at Oak Grove-Coburn School and I was a regular at St. Paul's Center with the Oblates. I was working at Kentucky Fried Chicken on Western Avenue in Augusta. There is one memory of walking home from KFC thoroughly covered in grease and flour with my high-water pants, dancing on the dark back streets, singing this song at the top of my lungs with complete joy. The friends I was meeting at St. Paul's were encountering one STRANGE individual, that's for sure!
This became part of my early 'repertoire' along with "This is My Body", "Forever" and other meditative songs I used at prayer meetings. It offered an opportunity, a simple tool, to enter into prayer and communion. I've even used it recently for prayer times. There is definitely power in the name of Jesus.
In the Bible, a person's name had huge significance and often God used a name to make a big statement about their mission or identity. So, Abram became "Abraham", 'father of a multitude' and Jesus transformed Simon into "Peter", a 'rock' of faith, Saul became "Paul", a servant of Gentiles and so on. "Jesus" is a Greek version of the Hebrew "Joshua" or the Aramaic "Yeshua". It means "Y-HW-H is salvation"; there were three important people noted with this name in Hebrew Scriptures: Joshua, successor to Moses and conqueror of the Promised Land, Joshua the High Priest, establisher of the Second Temple and symbol of the coming Messiah and Jesus ben Sirach, writer of the most important Wisdom book for early Christians. The fact that the angel Gabriel gave this name to both Mary and Joseph in Luke 1 is no random occurrence; this Child would be how God saves all humanity and all Jewish converts would think of those other Joshua's in their history. [The importance of a name is alluded to in the title of the song "Love's in a Name".]
The version being presented here was worked up on the Noteworthy Composer midi software sheet music program. The song has never been done like this with strings and timpani (!) and so on, but wouldn't it be nice? I have included all the verses which can make it somewhat repetitive to listen; my advice is to look at the lyrics as you listen and enter into the Name. There is a verse in here about Mary that I remember putting in the song on purpose. I had many Protestant friends I prayed with and I wished they could understand the way we see her role. We don't worship her; she's just a "humble handmaid" in her words. We relate to her as a spiritual mother Jesus gave us from the Cross, just as we are connected to all the Body in the "communion of saints". If it's the real Mary she's not going to lead you to herself, she's going to lead you to worship of her Son. In that verse, I was trying to describe actually experiencing that in prayer. Maybe that can help promote understanding and unity.
"His is the Name to which we bend, all things must bend..."