Jesus be our Speed

At Orton Church in Westmorland are displayed three ancient bells. One, dated 1637, has written upon it:

Iesus be ovr Speed

This is a strange expression that set me apondering. In the traditional Apostle’s Creed, we recite that Christ shall come to judge the ‘quick and the dead’. Although a different word, it might suggest that speed, like quickness, was associated with life. The dead, after all, have not motion. So, ‘Jesus, be our life’. 

Or it might refer to the word’s origins in Middle English ‘spēd’, which means ‘prosperity, good luck, success’. So, ‘Jesus, be our success/source of blessing’.

Alternatively, the bell-makers may have had in mind a meaning akin to the Dutch spoeden (‘to hurry, rush’), Low German spöden (‘to hasten, speed’). This is connected to the passage of time, and might therefore render the sense ‘Jesus, in your timing’.

For the believer, all three meanings ring true.