What a Beautiful Name It Is

Sometimes a song gets stuck in your head. As part of preparation for Sunday service worship last weekend, learning this song has resulted in What a Beautiful Name getting stuck in my head.

Song Lyric Analysis

Philippians 2:9-11 is the scriptural basis for the song:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

As a scriptural basis, the direct lyrics do not feature in the song as is, but the sentiment and theme which are communicated are clearly repeated throughout the song. The exaltation of Jesus is without a doubt present throughout the chorus. It is the name of Jesus which is beautiful, wonderful and powerful. The first bridge lyrics reference all of heaven roaring and praising His glory.

This song reuses the same chord progressions but has unique versions of both the chorus and bridge, with the wording beginning from the titular adjective of beautiful, followed by wonderful and then focusing on the powerful nature of the name of Jesus (verse 10). The second half of the chorus follows the standard “nothing compares to this”, which has a biblical foundation in Romans 8:18:

 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

The first verse opens the song by focusing our attention on the beginning, which is highly appropriate. The reference to John 1:1 should be obvious to the more well-versed believer:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (NIV)

Romans 1:20 completes the biblical basis for the verse in terms of the hidden and invisible nature of God’s glory in creation now being revealed and manifested in Christ:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

The second verse lyric “You didn’t want heaven without us” does not have a direct biblical reference, but is implied and deduced from verses such as Acts 4:12:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

Ephesians 2:6-7 also helps to explain the theology:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

The love of Christ being greater and overcoming the weight of our sin is espoused in 1 John 3:20:

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

The last line of verse 2, whilst simple has a whole paragraph of biblical verse to teach from Romans 8:35-39 which teaches on the nature of God’s love that we cannot be separated from:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord..

After an instrumental interlude the bridge begins, first sung softly. Acts 2:24 aligns with the lyrics “Death could not hold you”:

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

The veil being torn, as mentioned across the three Gospels of Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38 and Luke 23:45. Whilst the Gospel writers record the literal event of the temple curtain/veil being torn in two, it is Paul’s letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:19-22) that provides a clear meaning and significance to the veil being torn in two:

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God.

2 Corinthians 11:10 explains that “As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, no one in all of Greece will ever stop me from boasting about this” which supports the lyric “You silenced the boast, of sin and grave”. The third line of the bridge “The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory” hearkens back to the original bible verses from Philippians 2, particularly verses 10 and 11. In the last line of the bridge, I personally find the word “again” intriguing since Christ was only raised to life once. Christ has and was raised to life; we commemorate this event today as Easter…

The second bridge changes the focus to declaring that God has no rival or equal, which is an Old Testament concept that originates from the likes of Exodus (34:14) and also Nahum (1:2-8). Psalm 146:10 supports the next stanza which declares that God reigns now and forever. The phrasing of “Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory” is reminiscent of how the Lord’s Prayer ends. Finally, declaring that Jesus is the Name, above all names returns us to the thematic verses of Philippians 2(verse 9).


The arrangement of the song, as previously mentioned briefly, is such that playing the song musically is easy because the verses, chorus and bridge are clear repetitions of the various chord progressions. It is only when you consider singing the lyrics that the song arrangement is non-repetitive since the typical chorus repetitions change.

The standard arrangement performed by Hillsong is thus:

  1. Verse 1
  2. Chorus 1
  3. Verse 2
  4. Chorus 2
  5. Bridge 1
  6. Bridge 2
  7. Chorus 3
  8. Bridge 2
  9. Chorus 3
  10. Last line


Verse 1
You were the Word at the beginning
One With God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ

Chorus 1
What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King

What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Verse 2
You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now

Chorus 2
What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King

What a wonderful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Bridge 1
Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast, of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again

Bridge 2
You have no rival, You have no equal
Now and forever, Our God reigns
Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name, above all names

Chorus 3
What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King

What a powerful Name it is
Nothing can stand against
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Last Line
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus