M is for Martha

I always liked the name Martha. Partly, it’s because my first girlfriend was named Martha. I used to serenade her with the song Martha My Dear by the Beatles [LISTEN], from the white album. It was only later I discovered that Martha was Paul McCartney’s English sheepdog.

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (pictured), of course, was the first First Lady of the United States, though she wasn’t so dubbed at the time. Martha is one of those classic girls’ names that, while extremely popular in the US in the 1880s (#14 in 1882), never lost at least a core of support; it didn’t leave the top 100 until 1966, and was still at #709 in 2010.

I’ve heard the slightly derisive term “being a Martha.” This referred to Luke 10:38-42 when Martha of Bethany and her sister Mary “offered hospitality to their friend Jesus…Mary sat and listened to him as he talked, but Martha objected to the fact that she was left with all the work. Jesus told Martha not to worry about small things, but to concentrate on what was important.” This proved to be an key concept in Christian hospitality; don’t NOT invite someone over, just because your home is not immaculate.

My daughter is fond of a PBS TV program called Martha Speaks, which “is an animated children’s television sitcom based on the 1992 children’s book of the same name by Susan Meddaugh about a talking dog named Martha…who is owned by ten-year-old Helen… When Helen feeds Martha some alphabet soup, the soup travels to her brain instead of her stomach, resulting in her ability to speak. The show focuses on synonyms and vocabulary, with each episode featuring an underlying theme illustrated with key words.” LISTEN to the opening title theme song, which features these lyrics: “Martha Speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks and…Communicates, enumerates, elucidates, exaggerates, indicates, and explicates, bloviates, and overstates and (pant, pant, pant) hyperventilates!” And here is a video guide to the episodes.


ABC Wednesday – Round 9

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41 thoughts on “M is for Martha

  1. When I saw the title of this post, I was half-expecting Martha Reeves to feature!

    Martha is a lovely name that isn’t so common these days, at least in the UK. It was my 5x great-grandmother’s name, born 1750, but abbreviated to Matty.

  2. Martha – such a lovely name – yes i would be the Martha if Jesus came for tea I guess – flapping about in the kitchen!!!! Our hen is a Mabel – quite similar. Love the introduction to the programme – what complicated words for children!!! Lydia could explain them to me sometime! lol!
    Great Stuff Rog, as ever.
    D xxx

  3. Beatles white album…not sure why this is the only one I have never actually heard all the way through. It’s not even in my collection…for whatever reason, it just never happened upon me and I’ve never picked it up. Funny enough, I was thinking about this just last month (I remember because there was something on it that I was told to listen to).

    Martha, to me, is one of those classic, old-timey names that I would expect one of my grandparents friends to have. I don’t know any Martha’s that I can recall.

    Glad to see you’re still rambling, Roger. Cheers!

  4. Strangely enough the name of Martha is not so popular in the Netherlands, I think because it is linked to that biblical woman you mentioned.It’s also an oldfashioned name!

  5. The talking dog named Martha sounds like a wonderful program. I guess I’m out of the loop on kids PBS programing. I like the premise of this one.
    Martha isn’t one of my favorite names perhaps its because of a reminder of a certain person.

  6. Serenading your girlfriend with a song about a sheepdog. Perfect, Roger, just perfect. ๐Ÿ˜€ Martha is one of those *old-world* classic names that will probably never completely go out of fashion.

  7. I know and have known quite a number of Marthas. I know I would be the biblical Martha — not complaining, but being too busy! Another old fashioned name I like is, Emily.

  8. Paul McCartney didn’t marry a Martha? May be his 4th? LOL.
    Was watching Ellen show, and she and her guest Jennifer Garner was talking about the other Martha, Martha Stewart.

  9. When I was a kid we had someone come to help with household stuff. She was called Lydia. Sometimes her sister would come along. Her name was Martha. The Bible stories I listened to as a kid always included Martha and the context is the same as this one you mentioned here. “don’t be a Martha…” (Was it some fame by association with Jesus of Nazareth, for her?) Martha Washington is a beautiful lady.

  10. What a lovely “Martha” post.

    When I asked my husband for an “M” word, he suggested Martha. I rejected his suggestion, but I did enjoy yours. Very much. I was not thrilled with my given name as a child. Perhaps the name was common somewhere, but not in my circle. It was, however, better than Edna. That was my mother’s first choice. I was rescued by my dad.

    In case there is any question with the Biblical sisters, there is another story with another Martha verse. I’ve decided it is my favorite. Rather than the “Martha, Martha…” verse of Luke 10:41, I’ve claimed John 11:15 for my life verse. “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”

    PS. One day I’m going to find a sign that says “Martha Lives here.”

  11. I hope that Martha makes the cycle and becomes popular again, – I think it is quite a lovely name. One of our sons had as girlfriend named Martha, – she was a great wit and we called her Mirtha!

  12. Ha Ha Ha, Roger, I would have loved to hear your song….especially picturing Martha the Sheep Dog…

    My mother had a saying that reminds me of your Mary and Martha story.

    “If you come to see ME, come anytime, if you come to see my HOUSE, make an appointment.” I have lived by this rule, and it brings a lot of freedom from having a perfect house…Step over the piles of sorted laundry, and lets chit chat over a cup of coffee….I like that!

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