Behind the Hymn: All Hail the Power of Jesus Name

Edward Perronet was born in 1726 England, the grandson of a French immigrant.  He followed in his father’s footsteps and entered the ministry.

Edward Perronet

Edward Perronet

He became close friends with John and Charles Wesley, eventually leaving the Church of England and becoming a traveling Methodist minister.

One story about Perronet says that Wesley encouraged him {Perronet} to preach, but he was resistant.  Finally upon being announced that he was going to preach he stood before the large crowd and declared, “I will now deliver the greatest sermon ever preached on earth.” He then read the Sermon on the Mount and promptly sat down.

In addition to being a skilled orator, he was also a skilled writer.  He anonymously published numerous books and hymns he’d composed.  In the 1779 book Occasional Verses, Moral and Sacred, a eight verse hymn was included that was titled “On the Resurrection.”  This song later became known as All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.

The hymn was first published to a tune written by William Shrubsole, titled Miles Lane.   Several years after the hymn was released Massachusetts native Oliver Holden composed a tune for the hymn named Coronation.  This is the Coronation March melody was first published in 1793 and is most familiar to those of us in North America.

Other tunes popular with the hymn include Diadem, composed by James Ellor in 1838, which is popular in Australia.

all-hail-the-power-of-jesus-name-1-638The lyrics of the hymn have been changed and altered over the years.  However, the song is believed to have been translated into every known language.  The Baptist minister, Dr. John Rippon, is known to have rewritten several of the stanzas and a new stanza for his 1787 hymnal.

Perronet is described as having an “irascible temper, an impatience of authority, and a touch of bitterness that grows with ‘not being understood’ ”

Eventually he became a trouble maker for not only the Church of England but also the Wesley brothers and Methodist movement.  He eventually settled down with an independent, dissenting congregation and pastored the church until his 1792 death in Canterbury, England.

The power of the hymn has continued through the centuries.  One story if about Rev. E. P. Scott, a 1800s missionary to India.  Against the advice of his fellow missionaries, he set out alone to visit a remote village and share the Gospel.  Days into his journey, he was met by a large group of savage warriors, pointing spears towards his heart.  Expecting to die, he decided to glorify God with his last breaths.  Taking out his violin he carried with him, he began to play and sing All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, in the warrior’s native language.  One verse led to another and he realized he was still playing and there was a peaceful quiet around him.  When he opened his eyes he discovered the warriors had lowered their spears and had tears in their eyes.  Rev. Scott spent the remainder of his life sharing the love of God with this tribe.

For a deeper meaning of this hymn, consider click here for the Word meanings of this hymn.  {Halfway down page}

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