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Fair Name of Jesus

From the series Church Music of China

One of the most famous and popular traditional Chinese folk songs is “Jasmine Flower” (茉莉花), which dates to the 1700s. It’s probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that any Chinese person you meet knows this song:

The New Chinese Hymnal includes a hymn set to this traditional melody, under the name 耶稣美名歌—“Fair Name of Jesus.” It is hymn #51.

Fair and holy Jesus name!
A flo’r most fresh and fragrant!
Morn and Even I think of Him:
He who chose to bear our shame.
Wondrous, wondrous Jesus’ grace!
He gave his life for us,
Our wondering hearts to claim.

Blessed, awesome, Jesus name!
O the love He dearly spent!
Precious blood was shed for us,
to be our cleansing sacrament.
O grace so hard to fathom!
May all who love Him,
serve Him with a firm intent.

Blessed, hopeful, Jesus name!
He made trembling hearts his own,
Upon his flesh bore our guilt,
For which He only could atone.
His love cannot equaled be,
Follow Him our Lord,
Give our lives to Him alone.

Great and honor’d Jesus name!
He met sin and death unfazed.
For our sake from tomb arose,
And later was to heaven raised.
Beloved name of Christ Jesus!
Honour well the Son,
May His Father God be praised.

Here is the song with Chinese numerical notation:

And here it is with staff notation:

Unlike the hymn highlighted in last week’s post, this is a more recent composition, from 1981. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out any information about the lyricist Shou-lin Tang.

This English translation was done by Andrew T. Roy, a Presbyterian missionary to China from 1930 to 1951. According to his obituary (2004), following a show trial and expulsion in 1949, he and his wife returned to the US. In 1972 they began serving in Hong Kong, where he taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It notes that he was a poet who loved to translate Chinese hymns. He also compiled a collection of haikus about China, which can be read here.  

If you are a music director at a church or school and looking for international songs to include in this year’s repertoire, this would be a great choice. 

Image credit: Julia Sewart from Pixabay
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Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio

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