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Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1994 -- Volume 7:13


 

A HYMN OF GRACE

FRANCES A. MOSHER
Pianist, Christ Congregation
Dallas, TX

ALL HAIL THE POWER

All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all.

Let every kindred, every tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all.

O that with yonder sacred throng
We at His feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all.

Edward Perronet (1726-1792)
Alt. by John Rippon (1751-1836)

That "All Hail the Power" is an eloquent hymn of praise to our Lord Jesus Christ would be enough to earn it an honored place in hymnody. However, several features of "All Hail the Power" earn it a place, as well, among our hymns of grace.

Reminiscent of the fifth chapter of Revelation, the entire focus of the hymn is on the consummate worthiness of Christ to be crowned "Lord of all"; there is no focus at all on our feeble works or resolutions. At the outset the hymn-writer declares that the power is in "Jesus’ name," not in our merit. Many Scripture passages support this declaration, but it seems particularly reflective of Acts 4:12: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

The hymn’s second verse proclaims that we are "ransomed from the fall" and saved "by His grace." Note here that He is crowned "Lord of all" by those who are already ransomed and saved. It was not their crowning Him Lord that saved them. Rather, He is crowned by them in overwhelming gratitude for what He has already accomplished on their behalf.

The fourth verse seems to strengthen the proclamation of grace by acknowledging that at this time we cannot, in fact, fully crown Him Lord as He deserves to be crowned. The poet seems to be looking forward with hope to a future time and place when, in "everlasting song," we will decisively, perfectly, and irrevocably crown as "Lord of all" the One who died to ransom and save us. Then those ransomed by His grace will see the perfect fulfillment of Phil 2:9-11.

The hymn’s author, Edward Perronet, was the son of an Anglican clergyman who, according to Ian Bradley in his book, The Book of Hymns, "was deeply influenced by the Evangelical Revival in the mid eighteenth century. He was a close friend of the Wesleys and earned the title of the ‘Archbishop of Methodism.’" Edward became an itinerant Methodist preacher, but later parted company with the Wesleys when they disapproved of The Mitre, Perronet’s scathing satire on the Church of England, published in 1757. He became minister of the Canterbury chapel of the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connection, but eventually lost that post due, again, to his violent anti-Anglican feelings. The last years of his life were spent pastoring a small independent congregation in Canterbury.

While Perronet wrote a number of hymns, this is the only one still used today. It first appeared in Gospel Magazine in April, 1780, under the title "On the Resurrection: The Lord Is King." The original poem had eight verses. The verses which ordinarily appear in hymnals today represent the first, fifth, and eighth verses of the original, with some revisions supplied in 1787 by Dr. John Rippon, a Baptist minister. Rippon, in addition to revising some wording of the original, wrote an additional verse which now appears in most hymnals as the fourth verse.

Three different hymn tunes have been used as settings for "All Hail the Power." The oldest, "Miles Lane" by William Shrubsole (1759-1806), first appeared in Gospel Magazine in November, 1779. Shrubsole, a close friend of Perronet, was organist of Miles Lane Chapel at the time he composed this tune.

In 1792, Oliver Holden (1765-1844) composed a second tune, "Coronation," for the Perronet/Rippon lyrics. Holden, an American, was a man of various interests and occupations. A self-taught musician, religious music was more an avocation than a vocation for him. In American churches, "Coronation" is probably the most frequently used setting for "All Hail the Power."

The third tune, "Diadem," was written in 1838 by James Ellor (1819-1899). At the time of "Diadem’s" composition, Ellor was "an eighteen year old hatmaker who ran the Wesleyan chapel choir in the village of Droylsden near Manchester." "‘Diadem’ has a difficult voice-range which makes difficult its use congregationally, but it is favored by many choirs."

It is not surprising that more than one composer has been inspired to create a musical setting for these lyrics which call upon us to crown as "Lord of all" the One who has saved us "by His grace."

 

Endnotes

 1Ian Bradley, The Book of Hymns (Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1989), 19.

2Phil Kerr, Music in Evangelism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962), 93.

3Bradley, 19-20.

4Ibid., 20.

5Kerr, 93.

6Ibid, 93-94.

7Ibid, 93

 

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