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All hail the power of Jesus’ name
Edward Perronet, a Methodist minister contemporary with the Wesleys, wrote “All hail the power of Jesus’ name” in 1779. Its rhyme scheme is intricate, ABCB, with the “B” rhymes carrying through and linking the entire poem: “Who fixed this floating ball,” “Ye ransomed of the fall,” “the wormwood and the gall,” etc. (as found, for example, in the 1878 The Children’s Hymn Book). Its message is unminced: everyone—from angels to sinners, every tribe and every tongue—should “Crown Him Lord of all” which is the final dictate completing the rhyme and the meaning of each verse. If children are not mentioned in the poem, they certainly are implied in its inclusivity and its simple, engaging rhymes which slip off the tongue. Its Methodist roots emerge in its focus on Christ’s Atonement for our sins: “Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget/ The wormwood and the gall” (v. 6). After appealing to various groups, the poem ends with a glorious universality:
Let every tribe and every tongue
Before Him prostrate fall,
And shout in universal song
The crownèd Lord of all. (v. 7)
No doubt because of its stimulating words, the text inspired a number of composers. One of the first tunes, “Miles’ Lane,” was written by a friend of Perronet’s, William Shrubsole; this tune “launched the hymn,” according to McCutchan (Our Hymnody 205)… possibly because of the majestic repetitions of “Crown him, crown him” (four times). “Coronation” from the Union Harmony hymn book of 1793 was written by Oliver Holden also for the text; its rallying cry comes from the repetition of the third and fourth lines in every verse, “Bring forth the royal diadem/ And crown him Lord of all” (v. 1). A third tune, “Diadem,” is perhaps the most splendid, intricately Victorian in its effect. It was written by James Ellor, an eighteen-year-old hatter and amateur composer, who took his 1838 composition to the hatmaking factory where friends were working, and they used tonic sol-fa to piece together the parts, enthusiastically singing the new tune (McCutchan 208). The last line—“And crown him Lord of all”—becomes a magnificent refrain in four-part harmony: sopranos soar up to two Fs above middle C, sopranos, altos, and tenor carry an intricate eighth-note melody, and the bass line comes in against them with “crown him, crown him, crown him.” Despite its origin, this tune was and is very popular in the United States. Of the 17 singers in the children’s choir who recorded these hymns, this was their No. 1 favorite.
Recording: Children’s Choir, June 2015, in two parts, to “Diadem.”