All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
By A.C Bridges
(Originally printed in The ARP Magazine April 1977)
There are few hymns which are found in more hymnals and more widely-used than our hymn-of-the-month for March, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” No. 132 in THE HYMNBOOK and No. 218 in the TRINITY HYMNAL. It has been called the English “Te Deum,” and it is difficult to imagine a hymn-singing congregation in which it is not known both in this country and the British Isles. However, it is a hymn which has been altered and improved upon from time to time since its first stanza was published in THE GOSPEL MAGAZINE in November 1779. After the first stanza with the tune “Miles’ Lane” was published, there were appeals for the remainder of the hymn, and in April 1780 eight four-line stanzas appeared in the same magazine with the title, “On the Resurrection—The Lord Is King.” No name was signed to the hymn, and its authorship was a matter of speculation for a number of years.
However, its author was Edward Perronet, the son of a minister of the Church of England whose family were originally French Huguenots but who came to England as refugees. Perronet was born in 1726, educated at home under a tutor, and whether he attended Oxford University is a matter of conjecture. He considered taking Holy Orders in the Church of England, but he became dissatisfied with the Anglican Church and became an enthusiastic supporter of the Wesleyan Movement. John Wesley admired Perronet very much and wanted to hear him preach. Thus, one day he announced that
Perronet would preach the next morning. Perronet appeared in the pulpit that day, announced the hymn, prayed, and explained that he would deliver the finest sermon ever preached. He then read the Sermon on the Mount with no word of comment and closed the service. Perronet favored separation of the Wesleyan Movement from the Church of England, and because of this, for a time there was a separation between him and the Wesleys. He had been chaplain to the Countess of Huntingdon, an Evangelical, when he had been at Canterbury, but because of his views on separation, an estrangement took place. Thus, he served an Independent Chapel in that city until his death in 1792. One writer says that Perronet and the Wesleys were later reconciled and visited and counseled each other. Perronet’s last words were:
“Glory to God in the height of His divinity!
Glory to God in the depth of His humanity!
Glory to God in His all-sufficiency!
Into His hand I commend my spirit.”
The writer is buried in the cloisters of the Canterbury Cathedral. Even though he had favored separation from the Church of England his hymn is found in almost every Anglican Hymnal today.
The last stanza of the hymn in both THE HYMNBOOK and the TRINITY HYMNAL, beginning with, “0 that with yonder sacred throng,” is by John Rippon, a Baptist minister, and the hymn appeared in 1787 in Rippon’s SELECTION OF HYMNS with this additional stanza and in an altered form which is similar to the one adopted in most church hymnals.
The hymn calls upon “All” indeed to “Crown Him Lord of all”: angels, martyrs, the seed of Israel’s chosen race, the ransomed of the fall, sinners, every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball, and then the last stanza is a prayer that we too may be among that ‘sacred throng’ joining in the everlasting song, ‘and crown Him Lord of all.’
A story which appears in almost every hymnal handbook has to do with E.P. Scott, a missionary to India who ventured into a stronghold of murderous natives who had never heard the Gospel. Suddenly he was confronted with a group who pointed their spears at him. Thinking death was near, and having brought his violin with him, he began playing and singing this hymn. When he came to the stanza, “Let every kindred, every tribe,” he opened his eyes and saw a mighty change in them. They invited him to join them, and he worked among them for more than two years. His health compelled him to return to America, but a large number of natives followed him to the place of departure urging him to return, for “there are tribes beyond us who have never heard the glad tidings of salvation.” He did return and spent the rest of his life there.
The tune to which the hymn is most often sung in America is ‘Coronation’ by Oliver Holden, 1793. Holden was a carpenter in Massachusetts who became quite a prominent businessman but was also a prominent member of the Baptist Church and directed choirs and singing schools. He donated land for a Baptist Church in Charlestown and built another in which he was a leader. His tune was found in THE UNION HARMONY, 1793.
The British Isles use almost always the tune composed to go with the hymn in the first place, “Miles’ Lane,” which is found in our books too. It was composed by an intimate friend of the author, William Shrubsole, 1760-1806. The composer was born at Canterbury, sang in the Cathedral Choir, studied organ, was organist at Bangor Cathedral until he was dismissed because of his association with the Dissenters. He served then as organist of one of Lady Huntingdon’s Chapels until his death. The tune was named for the Independent Chapel where Shrubsole was organist.
There is a third tune in the TRINITY HYMNAL to this hymn, “Diadem,” by an English composer, James Ellor, born in 1819. He was not a professional musician but was a maker of hats. Before he came to America we see him in his hometown where the folk worked at hatmaking during the day and spent their evenings practicing singing for the Sunday services at the Wesleyan Chapel. One day at age nineteen he brought to the factory a new tune, “Diadem,” and the reception of it was so warm that copies were made in order that it could be sung at the Sunday School anniversary of his home church. It became quite the thing to use this tune for anniversary occasions in that area. He came to America and engaged in the hatmaking business until he became blind and died in 1899.
The hymn can be found in the Trinity (Revised) #296/297 – Two tune variations. You can listen to the tune by clicking here.