"Man of Sorrows, What a Name"

May 11, 2022 | Zach Young

“Man of Sorrows, What a Name” (Hallelujah! What a Savior)

Music teacher, choir director, and singing evangelist Philip P. Bliss (1838 – 1876) was inspired to write this hymn from the phrase in Isaiah 53:3 that refers to the suffering Savior as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” One writer recounts that Bliss conducted a service for inmates at the Michigan State Prison less than a month before his untimely death in a train wreck in 1876. As he sang this hymn, many of the prisoners wept openly and confessed Christ as Savior.

Indeed, it is a remarkably concise and powerful synopsis of the gospel, beginning with incredulity that the Son of God would deign to bear the name “Man of sorrows.” Verse two is the personal confession of a repentant sinner who understands that Jesus’s death was substitutionary— “in my place.” Verse three is a corporate confession of our sinfulness and failure as a people, combined with more astonishment that our atonement is full! Verse four takes us to the cross, where Jesus triumphantly proclaims “It is finished,” and on to His post-Resurrection exaltation at the right hand of the Father. And finally, as most great hymns do, verse five moves us to joyful anticipation for His second coming, when He will receive us into our eternal home, there to proclaim forever, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!"

"Man of sorrows!" what a name
For the Son of God who came;
Ruined sinners to proclaim!
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood,
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! Can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die,
"It is finished!" was His cry;
Now in heav'n exalted high,
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we'll sing,
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

I look forward to leading you as we sing the gospel this Sunday morning.