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Hymns of the Faith: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name


Hymns of the Faith

“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!”

A Presentation of
First Presbyterian Church

Jackson,
Mississippi

With

Dr. Ligon Duncan, Dr. Derek Thomas, and Dr. Bill
Wymond

Dr. Wymond: Good morning! This is “Hymns of the
Faith,” brought to you by Jackson’s First Presbyterian Church. The minister of
the First Presbyterian Church is Dr. Ligon Duncan. Stay tuned for “Hymns of the
Faith.” And now here with “Hymns of the Faith” is Dr. Ligon Duncan.

Dr. Duncan: Thank you, Bill Wymond. This is Ligon
Duncan. I’m here with Bill and with Derek Thomas for “Hymns of the Faith” where
we celebrate the greatest songs of the history of Christianity, two thousand
years of the richest treasury of devotional expression of faith in Christ and
love for God and his mercy to us in the great hymns of the Christian faith. And
today we are indeed looking at one of the finest hymns ever written in the
English language.

We recently listened to one of the most popular,
favorite hymn in the Christian language, Amazing Grace! But today we’re
looking at All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!, a very
majestic tune, directly exalting Christ and celebrating his exaltation. It has
a grand English regal tune attached to it aptly called “Coronation.” There are
other tunes that this song is sung to. I think it’s sung to a tune called “St.
Andrew.” It may also be sung to a tune called–Is it sung to “Miles Lane” as
well? Yes, there are several tunes that this song has been sung to, but
“Coronation” is a handsome, regal, sturdy tune which Bill Wymond will tell us
about in just a little bit.

Bill, why don’t you play that tune, because other
people will have heard this song to different tunes. But let’s hear
“Coronation,” and then we’ll come back to the story of the authors.

[Dr. Wymond plays tune.]

This is a beautiful, beautiful tune, and the song
was written mostly by a gentleman from England named Edward Perronet (or
“Per-o-nay” if he retained the more French pronunciation of his name). I think
you were telling me, Derek, before we came on air, that he was the son of French
immigrants to Britain. But also John–is it Rippon?–How do you pronounce that?
“Rip-pen.” Tell us just a little about these authors of this particular hymn.
I think I’m right–I’m just recollecting this; so I may be wrong–You can correct
me if I’m incorrect. Initially Perronet did not acknowledge his authorship of
the song–that that only later came to light. But tell us just a little bit
about the authors of this song.

Dr. Thomas: Yes, Edward Perronet (let’s call him
“Per-o-nay” for now) is one of these men who is really known for one thing:
this hymn. He did write three volumes, I think, of poetry. Some of it is said
to be fairly good, but he’s only really remembered for this. And this he wrote
about 10 years or so years before he died. He lived–his ancestors were French
and French Pprotestants who left during the time of persecution in the late 17th
century. I think of his ancestors, there were some (and possibly his
grandfather) who initially went to Switzerland; and then I think I’m right in
saying that it was Edward Perronet’s parents who moved to England where they
settled and where Edward was born. He lived during the time of The Great
Awakening; so he was friends with John and Charles Wesley.

There was a famous story of Wesley announcing to a
congregation one day that Edward Perronet (who was fairly reluctant about
preaching, and of course John Wesley encouraged lay-preaching–part of the
characteristic of The Great Awakening) would preach the next morning, and
apparently Edward Perronet said nothing. But when the time came he announced
him as the preacher for the morning, and Edward Perronet got into the pulpit and
said that he was reluctant to preach a sermon but he was going to read the
greatest sermon that has ever been given. And he read from beginning to end
“The Sermon on the Mount” without comment, which is interesting.

This particular hymn, as I said, was written in
1779; and I think he died in 1791–so a dozen years or so before his death.
There is such a majesty in this tune, but actually I remember singing this hymn
to “Miles Lane” in Belfast. That would be the tune that we would sing to these
words.

But now I can’t associate it with anything
else but “Coronation” since I’ve sung it so many years now to this here in the
States. And I love Bill Wymond’s comment about hymns being married to tunes.
We’ve all been to churches where music has been somewhat challenged, and maybe
the person in all sincerity devotes his or her life to helping the church play a
piano or organ or something. But their repertoire is fairly limited, and you
sing the same tunes to almost every hymn.

But I do love the association,
where that’s possible, of a hymn with a tune–particularly when the tune
sometimes can bring back to your mind the words of the hymn very often. I was
in a situation just this week, in fact, where what was going on was pretty
tedious, and in my head I was singing the tune (not out loud, I hasten to say,
but in my head I was singing the tune), and the tune actually brought back to my
mind the words as I went along.

Dr. Wymond: We have a mutual friend, Terry Johnson,
who has put out a psalter in which he would like to have had each psalm have a
distinct tune; so that people could do just that. But even from the psalter, we
get the hint that sometimes tunes were switched around because the
superscription will say, “sing this to a certain tune”–like “the Lily of the
Valley” or something like that.

Dr. Duncan: Bill, I’m going to say a few words
about the text in just a few moments, but I am confirmed in the assertion that I
made earlier by looking at Albert Edwards Bailey’s comments in his book on the
gospel and hymn about the authorship of this hymn. He says, “The editors had a
hard time tracing down the authorship of this hymn. As late as 1892…” [and
remember the hymn had been written in 1789, so…] “As late as 1892, it was still
in doubt; although the great Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology…” [which had been
written by that time] “…thought that Perronet wrote it. Final proof came 126
years after it was first printed when Dr. Louis F. Benson, minutely examining a
copy of Occasional Verses which was written by Perronet, discovered the
poet’s name in an acrostic, the first letters of the lines of a poem called “On
Sleep,” spell Edward Perronet. And in that same little book, this hymn is
found.” And that’s what sort of confirmed it–that it was Perronet.

Bill, tell us about the tune
“Coronation” that has been associated with this song for some time, and which is
probably our congregation’s favorite hymn tune to sing this song to.

Dr. Wymond: Well, the tune “Coronation” was written
by an American, I do want to stress. It is. This particular tune is by an
American, Oliver Holden. And Oliver Holden lived in the latter part of the 18th
century; and he was a carpenter first by trade, and then later he became a
music-seller, and he actually published some little hymnals. And none of the
other tunes that he wrote stand out as does this one.

Nevertheless this is a really good tune, I think,
because at the important point–at the crowning of the ‘Lord of all’, you get a
very dramatic and wonderful musical stress. I’ll show that. And it’s
interesting to me that in both the tune that the Brits use, “Miles Lane”,
which Derek mentioned, the same kind of music stress and pause occurs.

I’m going to do Derek’s tune, if I may, first.
Here’s “Miles Lane.”

[Dr. Wymond
plays tune.]

Then we have a repeat of that.

[Dr. Wymond continues
to play tune.]

Then at this point…When they go “and crown him,”
it goes…

[Dr. Wymond continues
to play tune.]

And then it’s slow to the end in the version that
I have. It’s a nice, noble tune. It sounds like an evangelical hymn, doesn’t
it? Like something out of Moody and Sankey?

Dr. Duncan: Even though it was written in the
late 1700’s by an organist, an Anglican organist, William Shrubsole–nineteen
years old when he wrote it.

Dr. Thomas: Don’t you get the impression, Bill, as
a musician that some tunes seem to have in mind large congregations to sing
them? As though they need the weight of a thousand voices to, you know…”crown
Him, crown Him, crown Him Lord of all.” You can imagine a thousand voices in
full blast singing that.

Dr. Wymond: Well, I always think of the Revelation
passages to which this alludes–where you have the multitude in heaven
worshipping God, and the 24 elders casting their crown before the Lord as they
kneel down. So in that context, of course, it’s a huge crowd. But also I agree
with you–to sustain these large dramatic passages, it really does help to have a
large crowd singing it.

But let’s go to the American favorite tune for
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!
And you’ll notice that both this and
“Miles Lane,” in the beginning do the same sort of thing. There’s nothing real
distinctive about the tune as it starts out. It’s just talking. It’s saying
something and laying the groundwork for this call for everyone to “crown him
Lord of all.” And so “Coronation” sounds like this:

[Dr. Wymond
plays tune.]

We’ve already listened to this. So it’s just
talking. Then it gets more dramatic:

“Bring forth the royal diadem, and
crown Him..” Just like “Miles Lane.”

Then this is sort of a repetition, and then
crowning again. I think that’s why that tune and the other tune work so
well–because the music just reinforces this wonderful majesty of casting our
crowns at His feet.

Dr. Thomas: What I like about “Miles Lane” is that
the repetition of “crown Him, crown Him, crown Him” is an ascending series of
notes as though your eyes are being lifted up and up and up to see a crowning…

[Dr. Wymnod plays “Miles Lane”.]

Dr. Duncan: The whole song–not only within the
stanzas is there this sort of ascent going on, this expansion and magnification
of Christ going on, but there is a succession going on in each of the stanzas.

In the first stanza, the angels are summoned to
acknowledge Christ for who He is. The second stanza calls upon the stars to
acknowledge Him. The martyrs, in the third stanza; converted Jews, in the
fourth stanza are called to acknowledge Christ. All sinners, in the fifth
stanza, are called to acknowledge Christ. All mankind is called to acknowledge
Christ in the sixth stanza. And then each of us personally and individually is
called to acknowledge Him.

Dr. Thomas: Am I wrong in thinking that the
influence behind that is the Te Deum?

Dr. Duncan: Oh, it definitely is following the
Te Deum
. You can see all of the classes of the Te Deum being
appealed to there, and maybe a couple thrown in that we’re not typically used to
seeing.

Dr. Thomas: Bill, tell us about the Te
Deum
.

Dr. Wymond: Well, it’s a very ancient hymn. “Te
Deum
” means “to God, praise to God” that is just one of the most
magisterial, hymns. And it does just what you say. And what I like about this
and the Te Deum is that it is so rooted in the psalms. It just is a
thrill for me to see how the psalmist keeps asking everyone–including nature,
the hills, the mountains, the rivers–all to praise God.

Dr. Thomas: Some modern versions of this, showing,
I suppose, the biblical illiteracy of our time, have to change some of the
verses. “The Stem of Jesse’s rod”, and I suppose people scratch their heads and
wonder what that’s all about. Of course if they knew Isaiah 11, and one of the
great Christmas passages, they would understand immediately that it’s a
reference to Jesus. But it also reflects, doesn’t it, how Biblically literate
congregations were in the past. Perhaps in contrast, sadly, to some of our own
congregations for whom this biblical language can often be confusing.

Dr. Wymond: Well, I have a question. Was that part
of the curriculum of education in the 18th and 19th
centuries, biblical religious knowledge?

Dr. Duncan: And still is in Britain. You still
have to take Religious Education. courses. So there is at least some modicum of
exposure to biblical literature even in secular schools in Britain. The state
schools all require a religious education component. It certainly would have
been a part of every–the education of every gentleman or gentlewoman in Britain
for many, many years as a standard component of education. Plus, they would
have been singing hymns. I mean the schools themselves would have had their own
hymnbooks. And just like in America, we had the old Northfield and Mount Hermon
hymnal. Each of the high schools in Britain would have had their own
distinctive hymnbooks that would have been sung from in chapel every week,
probably in daily chapel services and such.

Dr. Wymond: And there’s a sermon there, isn’t
there, to us. Here in the United States, just about the art–how we are not
teaching music in the schools anymore. Therefore our youth are not learning the
folk songs of our culture, much less the occasional hymn that might have been
thrown in. Did you sing hymns in secular school when you were growing up?

Dr. Thomas: Oh, yes, every day. There was an
assembly first thing in the morning and would last for 20 minutes or so. There
was a Bible reading; there was a prayer–usually led by the headmaster. The
Bible reading was often done by the…what you would call the 12th
grade…the “prefects” of the school or the “head boy” (as I was) often read the
lesson. And that was pretty standard–every single day.

It’s a very similar hymn to Amazing Grace!
In the center of it “Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race, ye ransomed of the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace…” Then the next line of stanza 4:
“Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget the wormwood and the gall…” Now again
that probably needs a little bit of translation. But it’s the idea of being
saved from sin and the consequences of sin, and the theme of grace as in
Newton’s Amazing Grace! So grace is at the heart of this too.

Dr. Duncan: And even as the stanzas follow along
the track of the Te Deum which is giving praise to the Triune God. This
focuses that praise on the Lord Jesus Christ. So it follows the components of
that ancient hymn that dates probably from the second century, one of the oldest
hymn texts and forms that we still have in existence in the Christian tradition,
is focused on the Triune God generically; and this is focused on the Lord Jesus
Christ.

And again it picks up language like we find in
Philippians 2:9-11 in which “every knee bows and every tongue confesses that
Jesus Christ is Lord” as it expands in the call to praise to Christ. So the
angels praise Him; then the martyrs praise Him; then ye seed of Israel’s chosen
race (that is those who are converted to Christ out of Judaism); sinners whose
love can never forget; then “let every kindred and every tribe on this
terrestrial ball, to Him all majesty ascribe.” And that again is language right
out of Isaiah that Paul picks up–I think it’s Isaiah 43–and then Paul picks up
on it and plants it right in the middle of his hymn to Christ in Philippians,
chapter 2.

Dr. Thomas: A couple of quick observations and
maybe a question to begin with, Ligon. Isn’t worship supposed to be all about
me? [laughter] I mean don’t we often hear people say, “I didn’t get anything
out of that service.” And isn’t this such a marvelous hymn to remind us that
worship is about God and about Jesus Christ?

Dr. Wymond: I really had a wonderful conversation
with a brother-in-law this weekend, and I’m rejoicing over the fact that he is
really going to a biblical-preaching church. But he made a funny comment to
me. He said, “You know what I love about this church is….” And, Derek, you
would like this. “…we have a Starbuck’s in the church.” And he said, “And even
better than that, we can just take it right in to the sanctuary. It’s so
comfortable, so wonderful.” Not that people shouldn’t be comfortable and not
that they shouldn’t drink Starbuck’s, but that to me is a little reflection of
the “me-centeredness” of our culture.

Dr. Thomas: And one of the things that concern me
often about hymnody is: Where is this hymn appropriate in the service? And
sometimes I think that very little thought is given to that. We sing this,
because we like this hymn. We haven’t sung it recently, but–Is this an opening
hymn?

I often think that it’s a good practice, in
general, to begin with a hymn extolling the Trinity; a second hymn about Christ,
which would be this one; a third one about the Spirit, preparing for the reading
of Scripture and preaching; and then a fourth one perhaps relating to the theme
of the sermon. So this would be a wonderful second hymn.

Dr. Duncan: Well, the problem with it is that it
is so grand that it almost begs to be sung either first or last. And we have
moved it around at different places in our services for different reasons.

Dr. Wymond: For many years we used to always sing
this at the end of our communion service. I thought that was an interesting use
of it. I think it’s interesting that, as the hymn begins, it’s that phrase from
Philippians “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name.” That statement is used to
represent the totality of Jesus, as you start out. Isn’t that an interesting
theme that he chose as he was trying to think of a way to…

Dr. Thomas: And, of course, just as Ligon has been
reminding us in the interpretation of Philippians 2, so this hymn is saying,
“It’s not just the name–Jesus isn’t the name. It’s ‘Lord of All.
That is the name that we bestow.” And that’s an important issue–that
Jesus is Lord
.

Dr. Duncan: And that forces you back into the
doctrine of the Trinity as well as you wrestle with that. The author, John
Rippon, Derek, who added a stanza and actually did some changing around of the
third stanza in order to make it a little bit clearer–he wanted to make clear
what it was that Perronet was trying to say. I must confess I see Rippon’s name
in several places in hymnody, including–isn’t there a tune named “Rippon” as
well? But I don’t think I know as much about him. Do you have anything for us
briefly to say about Rippon?

Dr. Thomas: Well, he was born in 1751 in Tiverton
in Devon, which is down in the…

Dr. Duncan: Toward Exeter? Down towards the
little shoehorn of England. It’s a beautiful part of the world–forests, big,
think green forests.

Dr. Thomas: He was a Baptist pastor in 1773. He
went, interestingly enough, to the Baptist College in Bristol which has, of
course, seen better days now.

Dr. Duncan: Let’s listen to this hymn, Bill.

Dr. Wymond: Dr. Duncan, singing All Hail the
Power of Jesus’ Name!
for us is Ben Roberson.

[Soloist sings:

“All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ name!

Let angels prostrate fall;

bring forth the royal diadem,

and crown him Lord of all;

bring forth the royal diadem,

and crown him Lord of all.

Crown him, ye martyrs of your God,

who from his altar call;

extol the Stem of Jesse’s rod,

and crown him Lord of all;

extol the Stem of Jesse’s rod,

and crown him Lord of all.

Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race,

ye ransomed of the fall,

hail him who saves you by his grace,

and crown him Lord of all;

hail him who saves you by his grace,

and crown him Lord of all.

Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget

the wormwood and the gall,

go, spread your trophies at his feet,

and crown him Lord of all;

go, spread your trophies at his feet,

and crown him Lord of all.

Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe,

on this terrestrial ball,

to him all majesty ascribe,

and crown him Lord of all;

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;

we’ll join the everlasting song,

and crown him Lord of all.”]

Dr. Wymond: This has been “Hymns of the Faith”
brought to you by Jackson’s First Presbyterian Church.