Hymnology: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Recently, I had worked through an arrangement of “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” for worship.  A couple of the upcoming Sundays were calling for a song with this particular emphasis, but I wanted to make it palatable for all types of backgrounds.

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Here is the story behind the hymn:

Edward Perronet, the son of an Anglican vicar, originally introduced “All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name.” His family was closely associated with John Wesley of the Anglican Church. The verses written by Perronet have been called “The Coronation Hymn.” The lyrics affirm the kingship of Christ and His authority. Much of the imagery used is from the Book of Revelation and from Jeremiah. The music sounds particularly beautiful when played by a violin. One of the more famous stories surrounding “All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name” involves the use of a violin.

A missionary to India named E. P. Scott learned of a wild mountain tribe that had never been introduced to the message of Christ. Since they had never been presented with the gospel, he decided to visit that tribe. When he reached their mountain home, he discovered a group of savages on a war expedition. They took him back to camp and threatened to kill him. He closed his eyes and starting playing ” All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name” on his ever-present violin. The natives were so overcome; they dropped their spears and invited Rev. Scott to stay with them. He lived among them for over two years, converting many to Christianity.

In addition to making some chord changes, some dynamic builders, and a key change, we also incorporated a simple chorus to the song.  As the main line of the song focuses on Jesus being “crowned Lord of all,” I wanted to use that line (lyrically and melodically) to bring the old and the new together.  The simple refrain is: “Every knee will bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus You alone, are crowned as Lord of all.”

I absolutely love this hymn!  It gets me so excited because of the deep meaning, the problem is that so many people don’t understand that meaning because some of the dated language in it.  I have often heard that young people don’t know these words, but I have had older people who have sung this song their entire lives say they don’t know what some of the words mean – so here goes a mini-glossary:

Word Meanings:

  • hail – call out to someone to attract attention
  • prostrate – lying stretched out on the ground with one’s face downward
  • diadem – a jeweled crown or headband worn as a symbol of sovereignty
  • chosen seed – selected by God to be his children
  • kindred – one’s family and relations
  • terrestrial – of, on, or relating to the earth
  • yonder – at some distance in the direction indicated
  • throng – a large, densely packed crowd of people

Lyrics (now with an even deeper meaning!):

(1) All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall,
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him,
crown Him, crown Him, crown Him,
And crown Him Lord of all.
 
(2) Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed from the fall,
Ye ransomed from the fall;
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him,
crown Him, crown Him, crown Him,
And crown Him Lord of all.
 
(3) Let every kindred, every tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him,
crown him, crown him, crown him,
And crown Him Lord of all.
 
(4) O that with yonder sacred throng
We at His feet may fall,
We at His feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song,
And crown Him,
crown him, crown him, crown him,
And crown Him Lord of all.
Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.

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14 Comments

  1. Cheryl Agnew Bell

    Love singing the old hymns!

  2. Adam Langley

    Travis, thanks for this post. I truly love the older hymns that focus us on the glory and power of God, and I would love to hear your version of this. I have a somewhat academic/practical question.One question came to mind as I was thinking about this song, is it worthwhile to sing songs with such dated language if we have to explain the meanings of the words? It's like the old adage in preaching, "If you have to explain your illustration, it's probably not a good illustration, and you shouldn't use it." I can't imagine that you or I would take the time during a service to explain the meaning of the words prior to singing the song. Since our goal is communicating the gospel and not simply telling the gospel, wouldn't archaic language serve as a hindrance to the proclamation of the Gospel?

  3. Adam Langley

    Travis, thanks for this post. I truly love the older hymns that focus us on the glory and power of God, and I would love to hear your version of this. I have a somewhat academic/practi​cal question.One question came to mind as I was thinking about this song, is it worthwhile to sing songs with such dated language if we have to explain the meanings of the words? It's like the old adage in preaching, "If you have to explain your illustration, it's probably not a good illustration, and you shouldn't use it." I can't imagine that you or I would take the time during a service to explain the meaning of the words prior to singing the song. Since our goal is communicating the gospel and not simply telling the gospel, wouldn't archaic language serve as a hindrance to the proclamation of the Gospel?

  4. Donna Brown

    Travis,

    For me, it is not about whether we sing hymns or praise songs. It is more about singing the music, whatever the type, with enthusiasm and with an attitude of worship.

  5. Travis Agnew

    So what would you say is the purpose of worship?Travis Agnewhttp://travisagnew.org/

  6. Travis Agnew

    So what would you say is the purpose of worship?Travis Agnewhttp://travisag​new.org/

  7. Greetings from Wordwise Hymns. I love your “glossary” idea. I once did a series of Bible studies going through the truths expressed in a number of hymns. As we went along, I included definitions of less familiar words.

    It robs Christians of their heritage to simply say, “We can’t sing that, because people won’t understand it. My response is, “Don’t capitulate. Educate!” God bless.

    • Robert,
      It’s often hard to read into an electronic response the tone and spirit of the message. So, here me ask questions in a spirit of genuine Christian brotherhood and fellowship…seriously

      My major question is, to what are we capitulating? Concerning evangelism, I was taught that our goal is not simply to tell the gospel but to communicate the gospel. I believe the same axiom holds true for songs of worship. If we have to spend time explaining the words of songs, are we truly communicating the truth of God in song?

  8. Hi Robert, I found your page looking for scriptures upon which this hymn was based. My opinion is the hymn is derived from Revelation. Tell me what you think. Here are the scriptures I find in the hymn:

    verse 1: Revelation 4:10-11 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

    11 “You are worthy, O Lord,To receive glory and honor and power;For You created all things,And by Your will they exist[b] and were created.”;

    Rev. 19:12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.

    Verse 3: Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,

    Verse 4: Revelation 14:3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.

  9. I have recently been going to a church where this song is song every Sunday by 4 ppl. 3 of them don’t even look like they are in h.s. Yet, and the pastors daughter who leads it if she’s even 25, idk, she’s very young. I never heard song prior to this, and I bring this up because you mentioned that young people don’t know what those words mean. That’s the problem, they don’t know when it comes to a hymn or bible, but they know when it comes to Shakespeare, . The school system never changes Shakespeare to satisfy ppl, you learn or don’t graduate, and it’s from the same time period as this song. Also,jay z began using it on roca wear and no kids question it, or say it’s too hard!!! But he’s of the devil and so is where he uses that phrase : do what Thou Wilt! looks like the churches fault, if a devil worshipping rapper can use the word thou, then why are we kicking Songs like this outta church and bringing in music to please people ? I don’t understand .

  10. Sorry, forgot something, oh and as far as the words, it completely contradicts the hymn story, I mean, the
    Savage ppl didn’t even speak English or prob speak anything Yet they got saved, I so case closed on people don’t know , kids don’t know, I mean honestly, that just shoots down the we gotta cater to ppl needs re: music right there, no! That man who
    Wrote this wasn’t trying to please anyone, his heart was right and he was about to die, it was the power of the Holy Ghost, He didn’t need a beat, a drum, the bible says when Saul had that evil spirit, David didn’t sing any words, he played an instrument, and the evil spirit departed. I got saved at 25, and it’s been 15 years, so im
    Not tying this because I’m
    90

  11. Hi, I also like the idea of a glossary, but as a (British) Bible translation consultant (in Nigeria) I have a keen awareness of the difficulties of making this sort of thing work.

    I’m wondering whether the idea of ‘hail’ is quite right. The glossary entry sounds like that for ‘hailing’ a taxi, rather than declaring publicly God’s name to be powerful (honouring it in public), which is my understanding of ‘hail’. (Hail may be akin to Heil Hitler, though this example is unfortunate!) This hymn is all royal language, and I have a suspicion that republican-type cultures struggle to understand royal language and ceremony properly. That will actually be as big a barrier to such a hymn being useful in an American context as the individual words being understood.

    Written in presumably a British context with a keen awareness of monarchy, sometime near 1779, the language would have been much more clearly meaningful and powerful. The only people crowned in republics are very ephemeral heroes; this weakens the utility of the imagery I would think. When you have to explain an illustration then you’re getting yourself into hot water which may not really be worthwhile.

    But I for one love the hymn. And so does my wife. Musically we somehow need to distinguish between ‘dirge’ and ‘majestic’. That’s tricky.

  12. I always like learning new words, so I am biased in favor of using unfamiliar words. People can learn the words’ meanings; their questions can serve as teaching moments to explain the context of the British society when the hymn was written and how it applies to Christ’s royalty.

    Shakespeare and the KJV Bible were written at about the same time, so the language is similar. Ironically, I started studying Shakespeare in 9th grade and reading the KJV in 8th grade. The explanations and footnotes in Shakespeare helped me understand the Bible better, and vice versa.

  13. I run a Christian elementary school in Cameroon for MK’s and we sing and learn a hymn a month (focusing on a verse a week). I appreciate the history and glossary you’ve included as I had already researched the definitions. I love giving kids the background story to the hymns, giving them expanded vocabulary and a love for these rich songs. I’ve heard from the parents that the kids will start singing the old hymns while playing together, to the delight of their parents :-).

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