All hail the power of Jesus' name

Hymn no. 156, Church Hymnal

R. J. Hammond is admissions officer in the School of Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California.
"So long as there are Christians on earth it will continue to be sung, and after that in heaven," wrote E. E. Ryden, the eminent Lutheran hymnologist, of today's opening hymn.

A descendant of the harassed French Huguenots, some of whom settled in England following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Edward Perronet (1726-1792) grew up in a parson's home. His father, vicar of Shoreham, was friendly to the preaching methods of the Wesley brothers. Edward also chose the ministry, and joined himself to the early Methodists, favoring, if need be, open-air evangelism to the more structured ritual of the Church of England.

John Wesley writes of young Perronet as a colaborer and describes a portion of their preaching ministry: " 'We were in perils of robbers, who were abroad, and had robbed many the night before, but we commended ourselves to God, and rode over the heath singing.'" * Do you wonder that Methodism's fervent and courageous testimony enriched hymn singing, or that sacred song gave added power to Methodism?

In time Perronet became pastor of an independent company of evangelicals in Canterbury. He had differed with John and Charles Wesley on matters of church polity, and wanted to withdraw from the formal church establishment. The Wesleys, however, wanted to preach their message "within" the church. While in Canterbury Perronet probably wrote the hymn that has immortalized his name among singing Christians. Among his 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!

He was buried in a cloister of Canterbury Cathedral. Though dead, he yet speaks to us in a hymn that ascribes majesty and homage to "The Lord, high and lifted up."

Englishmen usually sing this hymn to the tune Miles' Lane. More familiar to worshipers in the United States is the joyful melody Coronation, composed by the New Englander Oliver Holden. Shortly after the battle of Bunker Hill, Holden, a carpenter by trade, moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, to help rebuild the community, which had been set to flames by the invading British.

Holden was also gifted in other areas, and he not only became a pillar in the community church-life but also conducted singing schools. He was commissioned to write the words and music of an ode to honor George Washington's visit to Boston in 1789, and to train the male choir that sang it.

Coronation was composed and first played on a small four and one-half octave organ, which is exhibited in the Old State House in Boston. Some of us have had the privilege of playing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" on that organ. The next time you are in Boston, you might ask the curator for the same privilege.

A verse of this much treasured hymn is inscribed on the tomb of Oliver Holden.

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R. J. Hammond is admissions officer in the School of Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California.

February 1978

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