Praised be Jesus Christ!
The late Holy Father, Pope John Paul the Great did well to re-instate the Feast of the Holy Name, albeit only as an optional memoria, in order to set this to rights, at least within the Church to begin with. As a matter of fact, the Dominicans (among others) have propagated a devotion to the Holy Name for centuries and it is with joy that I am able to celebrate this memorial today in Blackfriars. Incidentally, the Western Province of the U.S.A. is given this title.
The Jewish reverence for the Name of God, the Tetragrammaton which must not be pronounced by profane lips, is well known. Fr Geoffrey Preston OP has written about this and reminds us that the same reverence for the Name of God has translated into New Testament times. As such, we ought to render the same love, awe and reverence for the Name, Jesus. St Paul wrote to the Philippians that "at the name of Jesus every knee must bend, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth..." (Phil 2:10 & Introit for the Mass of the Holy Name). If all creation kneels in adoration of the Holy Name, nothing less is expected of us. As such in the Liturgy, it is still prescribed that one inclines the head at the name of the Lord, as a mark of respect and reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus. Incidentally, the same sign of reverence is recommended for the names of Our Lady and the saints of the day. In addition, Pope Sixtus V first granted an indulgence (which is still current) for the uttering of the phrase so often used by Pope John Paul II: "Praised be Jesus Christ!"
Of the hymns composed to honour the Holy Name there are some beautiful verses by St Bernard of Clairvaux. He says: "Nothing sweeter is sung, nothing more pleasant is heard, nothing more lovely is thought, than Jesus, the Son of God..." and "O Jesus, may our tongues proclaim Thee, may our lives portray Thee, may our hearts love Thee, now and forever!" And again, "O Jesus, glory of the angels, Thou art a sweet canticle in the ear, wondrous honey in the mouth, heavenly nectar in the heart."
In 2003, I was suddenly inspired on the feast of St Bernardine of Siena, who did so much to propagate devotion to the Holy Name, to write a hymn myself in honour of the Lord's name. I offer it here for your comment and enjoyment! It may be sung to any Long Metre tune, such as the 'Old 100th' or 'Tallis' Canon' or better yet, the simple and beautiful Gregorian chant tune usually sung to the words of 'Jesu dulcis memoria', the traditional hymn to the Holy Name:
HYMN IN PRAISE OF THE HOLY NAME
by Fra' Lawrence Lew, O.P.
The name by which all men are saved,
That angel hosts adore and fame,
That shatters evil and the grave.
The name before whom devils quake,
The name proclaimed before all time,
The name that took flesh for our sake
The name told oft in verse and rhyme.
This name foretold by angel sent,
And promised to the one Most Pure;
The name to whom she gave assent
Became mankind’s salvation sure.
The name that came in quiet of night,
In lowly pomp led out to die.
The name that humbly veiled its might
Is now raised up to God on high.
This name the prophets spoke of old
And chosen men did tell abroad,
To bring to faith by preaching bold
And in this name confess the Lord.
This name is love, let evils cease,
It conquers sin and death and fear,
Brings end to sorrow, hastens peace
And is a cry for justice clear.
Behold! To every Christian soul,
This name brings joy and hope divine;
Across the Church, from pole to pole,
Gives comfort to the one who pines.
Sing we of this most glorious name
Invoked in prayer, called on by men;
For saints and sinners, still the same:
Jesus, O Jesus Christ, Amen!"