Hymn Story

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

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Hymn Story: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

The words for this hymn were written by Edward Perronet (1726-1792), whose family had been Huguenots who, before Edward’s birth, fled from France to Switzerland and then to England to avoid persecution.  Perronet’s father, Vincent Perronet, became a Church of England vicar, and pastored a church in Shoreham for 50 years.  The father was a friend of both Charles and John Wesley.

The son, Edward — the writer of this hymn — was a hot-tempered man who started as a Church of England pastor — and then became a Methodist — and then was involved in the split of the Methodist Church from the Church of England — and finally became a dissenter and served an independent congregation for the balance of his life.

This hymn was first published in 1779, and was paired from the beginning with the hymn tune, “Miles Lane,” by 19-year-old William Shrubside.  While it is still associated with that tune in many hymnals, most American hymnals use the tune “Coronation,” written by an American, Oliver Holden, in 1793.

Some of the original words have also been changed.  Dr. John Rippon, a Baptist minister, rewrote some stanzas and wrote one new stanza for his 1787 hymnal.  The result is that the words for this hymn differ from hymnal to hymnal today.

The hymn is a tribute to Jesus’ lordship.  It portrays Jesus as a king — with angels at his feet — with a crown on his head — with “ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe” singing praise to his majesty.  And it celebrates our opportunity to be part of the celebration — to “join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all.”  It promises to be the grandest party ever, and we are all invited!

–– Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan