This coming Sunday, February 26th, we’ll hear the FUMC Sanctuary Chorus present an anthem in preparation for the Word titled “He Is Jehovah.” The text and tune, written by Betty Jean Robinson in the 1980’s, harkens back to the music of the Hebrews and evokes a sense of being transported to an age long past. In rehearsal of this piece, I discussed with the Choir the word “Jehovah,” what it is and where it came from.
In Exodus 6, Moses is receiving instructions from God who empowers Moses (and Aaron) to go before Pharaoh and tell him to “let my people go,” and to do this in His name: “יְהֹוָה.” The Latinization of this recorded proper name of God are the letters “YHWH,” and translators of the Bible throughout the ages have approached the translation of this particular passage in different ways. Newer translations usually use the four letter word “LORD” as an appropriate parallel to the original four letters, however older approaches instead added vowel sounds between the transliterated Latin consonants “YHWH.” This is where we get the word “Yahweh” by adding the vowels “a” and “e,” but the KJ translation of the Bible used a different combination of vowel sounds to make “Yehowah,” which phoneticized in a pseudo-Germanic way became “Jehovah.”
There was a time when names meant something. Maybe it described your family’s trade (Fisher, Baker, Smith…), maybe it connected you with an important family member like your grandmother or your father, maybe it articulated your parents’ dreams for your life (Hope, Joy…). We still use names in the form of signatures to express our approval of transactions today. In this passage of Exodus, God shares His name with Moses, and that name meant something. Evoking God’s proper name meant that Moses went with the full power and athority of the being who owned that name. This Sunday, when the choir shares their anthem, they are evoking the proper name of God and remembering all He has done for His people yesterday, today
May “Jehovah” bless you and prepare you to experience and worship Him this week. See you on Sunday!