by Lindsay Terry
Song: "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name"
Scripture: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name, which is above every name" (Phil. 2:9).
I would rank "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," as the greatest song of worship and praise in the English language. Edward Perronet, the writer of the verses, was born in the town of Sundridge, England in 1726. He was educated for the ministry in the Church of England, following the examples of his father and grandfather. In modern terms, he was a PK-a preacher's kid.
Perronet objected to many of the practices of the Church of his day, leaning strongly toward the teachings of John and Charles Wesley. He would listen as his dad, an older preacher, would counsel with the Wesleys. Although his admiration for them ran very deep, his association with them was not without persecution.
John Wesley wrote in his diary, "He (Perronet), was thrown down and rolled in mud and mire. Stones were hurled and windows broken." Still Edward stuck by his friends, attending most all of the services where John Wesley was the speaker.
Perronet was a strong, impulsive, self-willed individual; therefore, he started an independent church in Canterbury, England. In 1780, shortly after he established his church, one of his poems was published in the Gospel Magazine edited by Augustus Toplady, author of the famous song, "Rock of Ages."
A few years later those same verses appeared in a book of poems by an anonymous author. One of the poems was written as an acrostic, the letters of which spelled Edward Perronet. Most of his work was done under an assumed name, or he used no name at all.
The tune, "Coronation", which is almost as popular as the verses, was written by one of America's most noted hymn tune writers, Oliver Holden. He composed it during a time of great rejoicing. It is reported that the four-and-a-half-octave organ on which he composed the tune is still displayed in the Old State House in Boston.
Holden was a carpenter by trade, and a self-taught musician who would take time out from his work on many occasions, play a melody or two and then return to the task at hand. One day he failed to show up for work and his friends went to his home to check on him. They found him perfecting a musical composition that he had written in celebration of the birth of his baby daughter. That wonderful occasion put a song in his heart.
Just short of his thirtieth birthday, he put the tools aside and began to deal in real estate. He also served for a time in the legislature, and built a Baptist church with his own money. Using the wealth he made from other enterprises, Holden published a hymnal which he titled, "American Harmony." While searching for music for his book of hymns he came across Perronet's poem in the Gospel Magazine. Holden had no knowledge of the background of Perronet, he only knew that the poem would fit his music written in celebration of his daughter's birth. The phrase "crown Him Lord of all," in Perronet's verses, gave Holden the idea of calling his tune "Coronation."
In church services today, you may hear these verses sung to three tunes-"Coronation", "Miles Lane", or "Diadem". "Coronation" is, by far, the most popular.
England and America came together in the persons of Edward Perronet and Oliver Holden, and gave to the world this wonderful song of worship and praise to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
"Let every kindred, every tribe
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all."
Reflection: Christ left His majestic position and condescended to provide salvation for lowly human beings. May He enjoy an exalted position in our hearts today. He and only He is worthy of our worship.
Lindsay Terry has been a song historian for more than 40 years, and has been
published in a number of publications, including Pulpit Helps. He has also written
some 34 books and church training manuals.