Friday, December 19, 2014

Hymns Have a History - What Prompts Songwriters to Write?

My guest today is Lucy N. Adams. She has written a book called, 52 Hymn Story Devotions and I've asked her to share about one of her favorite hymn stories. I find the stories behind the hymn fascinating. When you put the story and the words of the hymn together they are a powerful combination that speaks to the heart.

His Name is Wonderful

By Lucy N. Adams | Dec 18, 2013

Hugging my young son Ben was always a joy.

Now that he is a grown man, I don’t remember every hug, of course, but one special one I will never forget. It happened on the first school day in January. In his class they were to bring a favorite Christmas gift for show-and-tell so they could tell why it was special.

Ben was leaving the house with nothing to share and I asked why. That dear little 6-yearold boy dropped his head and said it was because he didn’t get anything he wanted for Christmas.

I knelt beside him and almost cried. However, we hugged and I expressed my sorrow that we had not chosen gifts that made him very happy. In the days to come we went shopping and he chose a favorite toy that he had wished for.

There may be many of those experiences following our elaborate yearly Christmas giving. Sometimes we don’t hear such an honest appraisal of our choice, so I am happy that I heard from Ben. I could do something to remedy his disappointment.

There is a gift, however, that is perfect. One of my favorite songs, “His Name Is Wonderful,” describes that gift. In fact, it was “a gift from heaven” said composer Audrey Mieir. It has become a treasured gift to millions of Christians worldwide. It was born at Christmas while Mieir was at church.

She said she never intended to write a song on that Christmas day in 1955. She was focused on the children’s Nativity scene and the sermon as she quietly sat in church.

At Bethel Union Church in Duarte, California, her husband’s brother, Dr. Luther Mieir was the pastor. The joyful congregation was focused on the re-enactment of the Nativity scene.

The children, dressed as shepherds, were covered in oversized bathrobes. Some of the angels’ halos were slightly crooked. Singing the glorious old carols and hearing the scripture passages had great meaning.

The powerful prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 went down deep into Mieir’s soul as she cherished those words: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given... and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

When that familiar scripture was concluded, the pastor lifted his hands, closed his eyes and said, “His name is wonderful.”

There must have been a holy hush in Mrs.Mieir’s soul.

“I felt as if I heard the rustle of angel wings and a musical chorus came to my mind,” she exclaimed. On the flyleaf of her Bible she quickly wrote the words that her brother in-law had just proclaimed, “His name is wonderful.” After she wrote it three times, she added the sacred name of her Lord.

It remained as only a short chorus for a few days, until she completed all of the music and a fuller description of who Jesus is: “He is the mighty King, Master of ev’rything, His name is wonderful, Jesus, my Lord. He’s the Great Shepherd, The Rock of all Ages, Almighty God is He.”

The last line is a personal reflection on the One whose name is wonderful. We want to bow down, love and adore this wonderful Jesus.

“Bow down before Him, Love and adore Him, His name is wonderful, Jesus, my Lord.”

Before Mieir died in 1996 at 80 years old, some of her last words were: “His Name is Wonderful will outlive the chubby human hands chosen to write a few black notes on five lines and four spaces. But it will never outlive the Father who glories in His Son’s name and who glories in our praise.”

Jesus, name above all names, keep us calm during this Christmas rush. Help us to focus on You above all else. We see You in the manger scenes in our homes, in stores and placed on front lawns across the land.

There are some restrictions on where those displays can be but it is the manger within our heart that is the most important.  It is there that You are everlasting. We are free to speak Your name and  that too is a precious Christmas gift.

May Your wonderful Name reign supreme during each  moment of our lives.  Amen.

Reprinted with permission of the author

You can find out more about Lucy at

Get a copy of Lucy's book of hymn devotions:

Hugging son image courtesy of

photo credit Children's Nativity: johntrainor via photopin cc


  1. Jeanne, thank you for Lucy's post. I had no idea of this back round. It was precious to read.........isn't it amazing how the LORD will touch us anywhere as He did with Audrey Mieir. It truly adds to the song's meaning.
    Thank you Mom

  2. A sweet story. It's good to know the background to one of my favorite worship songs learned years ago as a new Christian.

  3. Jeanne, Thank you for sharing this post. I love the stories behind the songs we sing. Each time my trio ministers in song to our church I try to share at least one back story of a song. I think it adds so much meaning to the words we sing and the music we hear.

  4. Mom, thanks for your input. Yes, I think knowing what drove them to pen the words is amazing. It brings so much more meaning to the hymn when we know the story behind it.
    God does indeed touch us in the same way He did Audrey Mieir. But, we sometimes are so busy we miss the subtle messages He brings. All the more reason to slow down and "BE"

  5. Thank you for sharing that Kathy. Often those first exposures to His word and the music, seals truth in our hearts forever. And, just think, you have a story too--and your life is the song of response

  6. Judy, I think it is fabulous that you share the stories during worship. That just enhances the message of the hymn and I love that the fragrance of the composer is continually released as we sing. And we can identify with their stories--real life speaks to the heart.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts


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