All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!

Stanzas 1–5, Edward Perronet, 1779; Stanza 6, John Rippon, 1787
Addressed to the Church Universal
All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ name!Phil. 2:10
   Let angels prostrate fall;Rev. 7:11
bring forth the royal diadem,Zech. 6:9–15; Rev. 14:14
   and crown him Lord of all.Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:12; Heb. 2:7–9
Crown him, ye martyrs of your God, Rev. 6:9–11
   who from his altar call;
extol the Stem of Jesse’s rod,Is. 11:1
   and crown him Lord of all.
Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race,Gal. 6:16
   ye ransomed of the fall,1 Pet. 1:18
hail him who saves you by his grace,Eph. 2:8
   and crown him Lord of all.
Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget
   the wormwood and the gall,Lam. 3:19; Matt. 27:34
go, spread your trophies at his feet,Rev. 4:10
   and crown him Lord of all.
Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe,Rev. 7:9
   on this terrestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe,
   and crown him Lord of all.
Oh, that with yonder sacred throng
   we at his feet may fall;
we’ll join the everlasting song,
   and crown him Lord of all.

The coronation of Christ has proven a useful image for many hymn-writers. This one, mostly the work of Edward Perronet, is itself like a medieval crown. Medieval crowns had upward-extending plates which surrounded the head of the King or Emperor. Each plate faced a particular direction of his kingdom or empire. Likewise, each stanza of this hymn, like a bejewelled plate, is directed toward a different segment of Christ’s empire, as if each were a part of that holy diadem which the hymn calls for.

Though the opening line is a summary, the first stanza is directed to the angels who fall down before Christ. The second is directed toward the martyrs mentioned in the book of Revelation, chapter 6. The third and fourth stanzas call on all the redeemed to crown Christ. The redeemed are first identified through their election—the “seed of Israel’s chosen race”—and then through their salvation—“ransomed of the fall.” The fourth stanza picks up where the third left off and continues addressing the redeemed, but this time as “sinners” who are reminded of the great ransom of the cross. The fifth stanza—and the last one of Perronet’s imagination—calls on all peoples and tribes to crown Christ. This stanza made a tolerably good conclusion to the hymn, since we move slowly outward from angels to martyrs (both of which are a special group from among the elect), then to all the redeemed, and finally to all the earth.

The main problem with the hymn as it stood when Perronet finished it in 1779 was its inability to incorporate the very congregants singing the hymn. While it is right that we call upon all the saints to crown Christ, surely we too have a part to play in this great coronation. Surely we too can have a plate from the celestial crown which shines its beams on us. Beautifully, in 1787 John Rippon added a final verse to complete this hymn. It invites the congregant to look forward to the day when we too may join the hosts in heaven and participate in the final crowning of Christ. Invoking the “everlasting song” even as we sing this temporal one, Rippon places us in the ceremony along with angels, martyrs, and those who have gone before us.

The fact that this hymn has been sung so frequently in virtually all English-language protestant churches makes it an especially fitting instrument with which to address the church across time and space. Certainly in post-psalmsinging America, no hymn has been uttered by more lips than has this one.

Since its first printing, this hymn has always been sung with some sort of repeated phrase or refrain at each stanza’s end, naturally drawing on the text’s own repetition of “crown him Lord of all.” Given the vast audience which we exhort when we sing this hymn, it only makes sense that we repeat the main thrust of the text, as one would repeat an important idea when speaking to large crowds in open air.

All three tunes that have been wedded to “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name” are magnificent. The oldest, MILES LANE, graphically outlines the contours suggested by the text. The American tune, CORONATION, unfolds in a progression of figures—opening with an arpeggiated clarion call and threefold turn-figure on the second scale-degree for lines 1 and 2, proceeding to horn fifths for line 3, and culminating with a great blast on high, held notes for line 4—which are most idiomatic for fanfare trumpets. The enthusiastic DIADEM reproduces the cheers and acclamations of the church universal in its polyphonic iterations of “crown him!”