Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jesus, Name Above All Names – Naida Hearn


..that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Philippians 2:10)


Mundane, mingling with the sublime. That might be the best way to describe in five words or less how Naida Hearn composed a song one day in 1974.  It was a warm summer December day for Naida, so you might have figured out by now that she was in the southern hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed from those in the northern hemisphere. It was near Christmas time, when perhaps thoughts of Christ are more prevalent, though there was no chill or snow like I might imagine accompanying that special time of year. “Jesus, Name Above All Names” was on 43-year old Naida Hearn’s mind as she went about her daily chores.




Naida Hearn was doing her family’s laundry that December day in 1974 near Palmerston, New Zealand. Whether it was actually North Palmerston (on the northern island of this southwest Pacific island nation) or the smaller town Palmerston (on the southern island) has not been clear, until now; as it turns out, 20 years later in 1994 someone with a singing group from the United Kingdom visited Palmerston North, and discovered that Naida Hearn lived there. (Thanks to Sharon McKenzie, who replied to the initial blog entry this author made here, giving us the right details! Awesome!) Here’s some of her words that she provides, as she reflected on meeting Naida. We knocked on the door and a little lady answered. We asked if she was Naida Hearn, to which she replied in the affirmative. We told her that we were musicians visiting from England and would very much like to talk to her. She told us her story… (about an unhappy marriage). But, Naida was an inspiration to those around her, and had her bible open on the table ready to lead a bible study among those in her community. She told us about writing her song, standing at the sink and having all the names of Jesus come into her head. She then sat down at her piano and played it with wonderful flourishes. She also shared with us that it wasn't sung correctly! A group of evangelists had taken her song to Europe but had taught it wrongly. She said that she felt that when (she) was singing about our Lord, the melody should never drop, so at the end of the first half of the song in the words 'Glorious Lord', the note on Lord should stay the same note and not go down!  


So, she’d just been thinking about Jesus, and wanted to keep her brain focused on Him as she did the wash…. That’s how Jesus is, as He becomes front and center in a believer’s thoughts, if one opens the mind’s eyes to Him, even in the mudane part of one’s day. Naida used a method that’s common at Christmastime. She pondered the various names of Him, including ‘Emmanuel’ that we often hear in December, and which she repeated in her composition.  Perhaps it was a King James or Wycliffe or Revised Standard Version of Matthew’s virgin birth story that she read, since most other bible translations might have spelled it ‘Immanuel’ in Matthew 1:24. She sang as she worked, and sensed He gave her the song’s first line. So, she kept going, intoning some of the other names she’d found in her bible. She grasped that she had something special after a few moments, and left the wash to plunk out its melody on a piano. Once she had the finishing touches on it, she asked for His OK, and got it.  Then she went back to the laundry.
 

Is life ordinary, even tedious? ‘Yes’, Naida Hearn might have admitted, along with the rest of us. Maybe that’s the reason she wanted to spice up her average day, that day in 1974. She gives me a model for the way to do that. Even during the Christmas season, the hubbub of the Yuletide might distract me if I’m not careful. I could take for granted something that’s obvious, perhaps like a big hill or similar physical landmark that’s in front of me every day. I admire it the first time I see it, and examine its details, maybe even intimately, but then I begin to ignore it. Is there one in your world that you see daily? He’s like that, but I confess that I often overlook the details of His landscape, the nuances of His various names. I need to start picking out more details of that peak I see every day . 




“The Complete Book of Hymns – Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs”, by William J.  and Ardythe Perersen , published by Tyndale House in 2006, is one source for this song story. The Petersens indicate that Hearn was born in 1931 and died in 2001. See also this blog entry’s comments for the complete 1st person story shared by 2 readers!

The following is a site giving details of Naida Hearn’s home in New Zealand. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmerston_North,_New_Zealand

The below site suggests that she was born in 1944 and died in 2001.
http://www.hymnswithoutwords.com/hymns/Category:Naida_Hearn

2 comments:

Sharon McKenzie said...

Hello David,

I can elucidate a little more on your story. Although I am from the UK, in 1994 I visited NZ on a musical tour with my then husband and a group of musicians from Wellington. My husband was playing an arrangement of Jesus, name above all names during our concerts and we played one of our concerts in Palmerston North. One of our backing band asked if we realized that the writer, Naida Hearn, lived in Palmerston North. We said that if it was possible, we would like to meet her. The next day, we set off on our tour bus and headed to the elderly community where she lived. On visiting the office building we were given her address and climbing over muddy gardens which, due to the newness of the community, were still un-landscaped.
We knocked on the door and a little lady answered. We asked if she was naiad Hearn to which she replied in the affirmative. We told her that we were musicians visiting from England and would very much like to talk to her.
She told us her story during which we discovered that she had been married to a man who became a Jehovah's Witness and along with the son, they treated her as a non-person. Despite her unhappy marriage, Naida was an inspiration to those around her and had her bible open on the table ready to lead a bible study among those in her community.
She told us about writing her song, standing at the sink and having all the names of Jesus come into her head. She then sat down at her piano and played it with wonderful flourishes. She also shared with us that it wasn't sung correctly! A group of evangelists had taken her song to Europe but had taught it wrongly. She said that she felt that when was singing about our Lord, the melody should never drop so, at the end of the first half of the song in the words 'Glorious Lord', the note on Lord should stay the same note and not go down! There, some special information.

Rosie Marriott said...

I agree with the above blog. Naida is not from Palmerston in the South Island, but from the city of Palmerston North in the North Island. Naida used to attend the ladies' Bible study that I attended.
David, you must correct the name of the town as they are hundreds of kilometers apart.