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Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?

Peter T. 10 May 09 - 11:39 AM
wysiwyg 10 May 09 - 03:05 PM
peregrina 10 May 09 - 03:31 PM
Azizi 10 May 09 - 03:40 PM
Azizi 10 May 09 - 03:48 PM
Azizi 10 May 09 - 04:03 PM
Azizi 10 May 09 - 04:46 PM
Azizi 10 May 09 - 05:15 PM
Peter T. 10 May 09 - 05:21 PM
peregrina 10 May 09 - 05:24 PM
Peter T. 10 May 09 - 07:06 PM
Azizi 10 May 09 - 09:11 PM
Peter T. 11 May 09 - 04:42 PM
GUEST 10 Nov 09 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,BT 06 Jan 10 - 07:33 AM
GUEST,Jennifer Bynum Green 29 Jan 10 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Barbara 02 Mar 10 - 03:16 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Mar 10 - 06:01 PM
Richie 02 Apr 10 - 10:44 PM
Richie 02 Apr 10 - 10:47 PM
GUEST 05 Apr 10 - 10:10 PM
GUEST,MrP 23 Sep 10 - 03:15 PM
wysiwyg 03 Oct 10 - 03:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Oct 10 - 02:36 PM
wysiwyg 05 Oct 10 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,Michael 25 Jun 11 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,Amber 25 Jun 11 - 02:14 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jun 11 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,Amber 25 Jun 11 - 03:40 PM
Kent Davis 25 Jun 11 - 11:36 PM
GUEST,nick 19 May 14 - 10:57 PM
wysiwyg 06 Aug 14 - 01:36 PM
GUEST 06 Aug 14 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 06 Aug 14 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,areader 22 Feb 15 - 02:58 PM
GUEST, Spirit of truth 09 May 16 - 07:51 PM
GUEST 18 Nov 17 - 03:26 AM
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Subject: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 May 09 - 11:39 AM

Listening to Marian Anderson singing spirituals, and one of them I had never heard before, and it is very beautiful. It starts:

"I told Jesus it would be all right if he change my name".

I appreciate it is traditional. Does anyone know what "changing my name" means in this context? She's not going to be a nun with a new name. Did black people get new names when they were baptised? Or is it just a metaphor.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 May 09 - 03:05 PM

Like most spirituals, this one is posted elsewhere I believe. And like most if not all, the text has so many embedded meanings and so many possible new meanings that it would not be possible to answer the question except as each person singing it and hearing it feels it. Our Bishop preaches that it's a new name as a converted Christian. There may be a Bible verse on that I have not found yet, but that will not be all it can mean.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: peregrina
Date: 10 May 09 - 03:31 PM

Peter, I just pm-ed you what I think is part of the answer, but to be more sure I'd want to look up something else and hear a bit more of the context of the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Azizi
Date: 10 May 09 - 03:40 PM

Peter, regarding the African American spiritual "If He Changed My Name", you asked "Did black people get new names when they were baptised? Or is it just a metaphor.

Here's my response to your question- it's a metaphor of a person's name being added to the "Book of Life" as a new "saint" (meaning a person who has just been baptized). The belief was/is that a newly baptized person being a brand new person in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the church. The phrase "If He change my name" also probably most strongly alludes to how Saul's name was changed to Paul upon his conversion to Christianity.

That Saul/Paul Biblical reference was similar to African traditions in which individuals changed their names or have their personal names changed or were given nicknames and praise names to reflect different circumstances that occur in their lives.

There are a number of historical and more contemporary examples of African American people changing their names. From my reading I'm aware that some Black people who escaped slavery changed their names to help them escape notice of slave catchers or to reflect their new status as free people. Also, historically, some African Americans changed their names to reflect or reinforce an aspect of their nature-for instance "Sojourner Truth (1797 – November 26, 1883) was the self-given name, from 1843, of Isabella Baumfree, an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sojourner_Truth.

Another example of a prominent African American who changed his birth name was Black Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist Malcolm X. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little and was also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X

And in the 1970s to date, a number of Black musicians, athletes, and artists, and "regular people" have changed our birth names (sometimes our whole name but also sometimes just our first names) to reflect our conversion to lslam and/or to reflect our afro-centric sentiments.

However, there is no across the board tradition that I'm aware of among Black American Christians of having our personal names or our last names changed when we are baptized. That said, there is a tradition in some African American churches (particularly in fundamentalist churches such as the Church of God In Christ (COGIC) congregations) of using a title before the last name -or dependent on the ages of the persons and the circumstances, the first name of an adult- who is "saved" (baptized)-for instance "Sister Jackson", "Brother" Michael or "Mother Williams:. (Interestingly enough, I've not heard the title "Father" used for male church members who aren't part ministers, but that could be because of my relative lack of experience with this religious denomination).


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Azizi
Date: 10 May 09 - 03:48 PM

Fwiw, here's the hyperlink for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X

Also. here's this sentence without the extraneous word:

(Interestingly enough, I've not heard the title "Father" used for male church members who aren't ministers, but that could be because of my relative lack of experience with this religious denomination).


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Azizi
Date: 10 May 09 - 04:03 PM

Here's a link to a YouTube video of Jennifer Bynum singing the African American spiritual "If He Change My Name"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLelqaZC15g&feature=PlayList&p=D37499AD63DD260C&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=25


**

Here's a link to a YouTube video of a woman named Oya singing another African American spiritual: "I Know I Been Changed (The Angels In Heaven Done Signed My Name)"

ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOA_2YJuQik

**

"The angels signed my name" means the baptized person has his or her name in God's Book of Life.

Btw, in Pentacostal churches, baptized people were/are called "saints". This adds more meaning to the well known African American gospel song "When The Saints Go Marching In".


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Azizi
Date: 10 May 09 - 04:46 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOA_2YJuQik

"I Know I Been Changed (The Angels In Heaven Done Signed My Name)"

Lyrics:

I tol' Jesus it would be all right
If He changed my name

Jesus tol' me I would have to live humble
If He changed mah name

Jesus tol' me that the world would be 'gainst me
If He changed mah name

But I tol' Jesus it would be all right
If He changed mah name

http://www.negrospirituals.com/news-song/changed_mah_name.htm

**

Here's the format for "I Know I've Been Changed"

Soloist and congregation sing the chorus:

Lord,I know I've been changed (3x)
The angels (up) in heaven done singed my name

The soloist sings a four line floating verse from spirituals such as:
I went to the valley
But I didn't go to stay
My soul been happy
And I stayed all day

After singing that verse, the soloist and the congregation sing the chorus again.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Azizi
Date: 10 May 09 - 05:15 PM

Here's another video of "I've Know I've Been Changed"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAyKfbaAgLo&NR=1

Lashun Pace "I know I've been changed"


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 May 09 - 05:21 PM

Thanks for the swift responses. I agree with what has been said, but I guess I am still wondering why it seems so straightforward in the song. I wonder if there was a traditional ritual in the min-nineteenth century somewhere as part of baptisms, or some such. Perhaps as Azizi suggests, it is about being re-registered in the Book of life -- but wouldn't that be your real name, not a new name. The Saul-Paul shift -- I wonder if anyone made some ritual out of it somewhere. .

yours ever,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: peregrina
Date: 10 May 09 - 05:24 PM

I think it's metaphorical--the new names in the Gospel are given in the context of the call to discipleship--the most demanding call; to be willing to accept the new name is to be willing to accept the call.
(My analogy for this is many centuries earlier, but I think the idea is the same.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 May 09 - 07:06 PM

A friend informs me that in the Eastern Orthodox Church one does get a new name on baptism. I wonder if there were equivalents in some of the Adult Baptism sects.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Azizi
Date: 10 May 09 - 09:11 PM

Peter, I believe your initial question was is there or was there a tradition among African Americans of changing our names upon being baptized. My answer to that question is that I don't believe that choosing or being given a new name when you are baptized is now or has ever been a tradition in African American Baptist denomination congregations or in any other African American Christian congregations.

I understand from your latest post that you were informed that this is a tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church. I also would be interested to know if this name changing tradition is practiced among any (other) Christian denominations, particularly in the USA.

With regards to understanding the reasons for the lyrics of the spiritual "If He Change My Name", it might be helpful to consider this information about Black slavery in the USA:

Among other beneficial results of the end of chattel slavery in the USA was that Black Americans had the right to name their children rather than having them be named by others (meaning their children's owner/s).

During the three centuries of slavery in the United States, some enslaved Black people had chosen names for their children without any intervention of their slave owners. A considerable proportion of those names were chosen or created using their own naming traditions. Those naming traditions were very much influenced by West African and Central African practices. But the owners of those slaves, if they chose, could disregard the will and the desire of a child's parents and name that child himself or herself. Even then, the child might have a "basket" name (a name that their parent or parents called them when they were away from the slave owners).

Contrary to commonly held beliefs, some enslaved Black Americans had last names and these last names were not necessarily the names of their current owners. However, if those slaves had a last name that they used, their present owner could and often did choose to disregard that surname. But a considerable number of enslaved Black people in the United States had no surnames. Of course, one shouldn't forget that there were also free Black people in the South and elsewhere who had last names. However, this brief overview focuses on the naming practices of enslaved Black people-particularly in the 19th century USA South-and not Black people during that time who were born free or who were freed.

At the end of the US Civil War one of the most immediate decisions that many newly freed Black Americans had to make was which last name they would use. Black people called last names "entitles", a term which implies that they knew that they were "entitled" by the status of citizens to have a last name. Some Black Americans who previously hadn't had a last name chose chose a last name. Also contrary to common belief, many of these newly freed people didn't chose the last name of their enslavers. Instead, those people choose another last name. In one family reunion that I attended as a guest/ performer, the Black family tells how two brothers out of three walked to a plantation of a man who was "respected" because he was fair in the way he treated his slaves. These two brothers asked permission of that plantation owner to use his name. The man gave his permission, and both brothers claimed that name, but overtime or when it was written down by whoever recorded those names, that surname came to be spelled differently. There is another story that I read about a family whose last name is "Beman" because their great great grandfather who was newly freed wanted people to know that he was a man (and not an animal as many people in those days considered Black people to be). There are many such stories of how African Americans got their new last names. My point is that one shouldn't underestimate the importance of names for Black Americans.

As the lyrics to the song "If He Change My Name" indicates, a person's new circumstances (as a born again Christian) confers upon him or her new responsibilities (the person is supposed to follow God's Word and adhere to the church's rules). Those lyrics also indicate that being born again (which is symbolized by the phrase "having a new name" means that the person may be challenged by people in the world (be tempted by them to go back to worldly, sinful ways.

As to why the words the "If He Change My Name" are allegorical instead of directly saying "I told Jesus it would be alright if I have to take on new responsibilities and if I am confronted with worldly challenges because I decided to become a Christian, to use
hip-hop language, "that's the way we roll" (meaning that's how we do things). In other words, that indirect way of speaking is a characteristic of African American music style.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 11 May 09 - 04:42 PM

All useful, thanks.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 09:02 AM

When a person was sold into slavery they would take on the name of their slave master. This often meant they would have had numerous last names. Therefore a desire for freedom and to have a name that was attached to the Savior that would both free them and own them was what they seeked. This time they had a say in the matter. No more white man name but a name given to them by Jesus. "I told jesus it would be alright if He changed my name".


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,BT
Date: 06 Jan 10 - 07:33 AM

All the discussions so far don't hit on the implications of this line:

Jesus tol' me that the world would be 'gainst me
If He changed mah name

In Anderson's version, it is even more direct:

Jesus tol' me dat de world would hate me
If he changed mah name

I take this as indicating that the action about to be undertaken is one that is specifically and personally heroic because its consequence is rejection by the entire world in which the subject lives.

I see the song as explicitly a rejection of common values. I don't believe that it pertains to any specific social or historical experience, but entirely transcends such concerns. I believe it is entirely about a private act of self-sacrifice which goes against the community good, or the community interest, but which has a superior moral value in the mind of the song's subject.

I do think there are local, sociological, narrative and even propagandistic elements in the song, but that these elements are indirect and subsidiary. Why did Anderson, an artist of infinite sophistication and a conception of personal dignity so strong that she sometimes spoke of herself in the first person plural, not clean up the language slightly? Why de instead of the? Here I think what she is trying to say is, 'the person of this song has strivings of utmost heroism; you would be making a tragic mistake if you thought that persons of simple language are not capable of great nobility.'

I am convinced this song is an assertion of psychological sophistication and must have been understood as such by its original auditors.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,Jennifer Bynum Green
Date: 29 Jan 10 - 09:45 AM

There are several scriptures that actually reveal the fact, when we who have received the 'new birth' from God, Christ, Himself will give us a new name, no one will know, except ourselves; Revelation 2:17, the other reference is found in Revelation 3:12.
I believe that the song was born out of the hope of receiving a name from God, not only did that name give hope, but the freedom one's spirit longs for, and the hope received only from a loving God who always keeps His promises.
Yes, there are other verses, actually there are four verses, which all cry out to Jesus, Please change mah name, whatever the cost, whatever the loss, whatever the gain, just please, 'Change Mah Name'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,Barbara
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 03:16 PM

Does anyone know where you can get the sheetmusic to this spiritiual?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 06:01 PM

Two versions of this song (occurs in modern references only?) are in the Lyr. Req'd: "Missing Spirituals" part of the Spirituals Permathread.
Additional verse (Nina Simone):

I told Jesus it would be all right if he changed my name (3x)
And he told me that I would go hungry if He changed my name (3x)
And I told Jesus it would be all right if He changed my name (2x)
So I told him it would be all right and the world would hate me
That I would go hungry if he changed my name.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Richie
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 10:44 PM

Anyone have lyrics Rodeheaver's 1923 version. Other early versions?

Also "Changed my name" means the name has been registered in Heaven and the individual now has a place in Heaven.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Richie
Date: 02 Apr 10 - 10:47 PM

I need the lyrics for: Angels In Heaven Done Signed My Name (Rodeheaver's 1923 version)

TY,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 10:10 PM

I'm also interested in more history on this piece. The piece was composed by macgimsey, actually a white, who grew up with african-americans and composed in that style.

Since it was sung by Nina Simone, who definitely changed her name, I wonder if it was written for her.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,MrP
Date: 23 Sep 10 - 03:15 PM

One of the [if not the] most moving versions [and thats sayin something after Nina Simone's version] is by Roberta Flack.

It can be found on her first album of Jaz ballads from 69 called 'First Take.'

Her version is retitled: 'I Told Jesus'....and its the Truth!

As this is also the album that 'First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' and other moving ballads are on, I recommend buying the whole album.

Enjoy


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Subject: AR
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Oct 10 - 03:43 PM

Some OT studies I'm doing point out that in Genesis, when Adam names the animals, he thus lays claim to owning them. The OT contains several name changes.

For one, OT patriarch Abram gets a new name (Abraham), when God gives him a particular promise (covenant).

You can name a duck... the duck doesn't care and has no choice. But since people have free will, for their name to change they must accept the name and, by inference, the ownership of the giver of that name.

Thus a person could answer to Jesus that it's OK with them if Jesus gives them a new name-- because by accepting it they acknowledge that they belong to Him.

This is in contrast to the slavery-times practice of owners-- assigning names to slaves the way people name ducks, with no choice by the named one inherent in that process.

For a slave to give Jesus the OK to "change my name" and claim ownership would have been a pretty heavy indication of allegiance, given that the same folks would have been subject to forced naming by secular owners.

The "new" name is the name of the person's sense of sovereign, submitted self, their eternal self-- not their physical, mortal self. "You can name my body but not my soul", in other words. "Mah soul belong to ME an' I give it to Jesus, never min' you think you own me. You can whip me but it's Jesus who OWN me, because I say so."

A breathtaking statement of personal power-- whether actually said/written by a slave or by someone evoking slavery-times thinking and sensibilities.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 02:36 PM

Even more relevant than Saul adopting the name Paul there is Jesus renaming Simon as Peter/Rock: 'Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter...


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 05 Oct 10 - 07:07 PM

There is also the angle that since God creates each of us as unique individuals, He knows who we really are, and knows our real names. Your parents might name you Matilda GeeWillikens Smith-- but that might not be who you really are.

The Bible also has a number of instances where God tells the parents-to-be what they will name their child. Names were considered quite powerful back in Bible times.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,Michael
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:04 AM

A name change signifies a life change: son/daughter, husband/wife, father/mother, doctor/teacher. This is the reason that religious orders (nuns and brothers) adopt a new name and we call the clergy "Father" or "Pastor" or "Reverend", etc..

Jesus changing our name to "Christian" signifies that our life has changed. As Paul wrote: "No longer I but Christ lives in me."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,Amber
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 02:14 PM

There are some really wonderful, faith-inspiring posts in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 02:22 PM

Catholics add an extra name when we are Confirmed, in addition to the ones we got at Baptism.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,Amber
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 03:40 PM

That's a lovely idea. Who chooses the new name? And my goodness, wasn't Peter changed? From a man who was frightened to own his Lord in front of a little servant-girl to that! Jesus changes names AND people!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:36 PM

As Guest Jennifer Bynum Green mentioned on 29 Jan 10, the song appears to be based on what Jesus said to the persecuted Christians of Pergamum:

I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells... He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.
(Revelation 2:13,17)

Kent


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,nick
Date: 19 May 14 - 10:57 PM

does anyone know who holds the publishing rights to
"if he changed my name" or is the song considered a traditional?
many thanks


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Aug 14 - 01:36 PM

Further Biblical underpinnings:

You shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. Isaiah 62:2

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17

~S~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Aug 14 - 02:18 PM

I would think that it is from the story of Saul "the Christian prosecutor" being given the new name of Paul once God meet him on the Demascus road and like God changing Abraham's name from Abram. Now why did the Lord change their names, I'm not sure.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 06 Aug 14 - 04:43 PM

I have heard that abram means exalted father, and Abraham means father of a multitude. as he and sarah had not produced any kids till old age, the new name might well be considered confirmation, and prophetic of Gods promise of descendants.
some interesting thoughts from wysiwg above.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST,areader
Date: 22 Feb 15 - 02:58 PM

Guys ... It means, I told Jesus that it would be alright if he changed my way of life, my heart and call me a part of his kingdom.

That's all it means ... change me Lord ... I'm ready to accept you and "your" word.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST, Spirit of truth
Date: 09 May 16 - 07:51 PM

No, this just means they in a fucked up situation and wouldn't mind if Jesus gave them a new life


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'If He Change My Name'?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Nov 17 - 03:26 AM

A spiritual refering to the fact that african americans had to take the name of slaveowners, hence all the johnsons and jacksons smiths, etc.
Hence Jesus told me that the world would be against me, if He changed my name.
Sad, but true.


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