All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name | There Is a Higher Throne

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name | There Is a Higher Throne

Liturgy Lessons: April 22, 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 147:1-11, Psalm 115:1
Prayer of Invocation
Hymn of Adoration: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (#296)
Call to Confession: from Jeremiah 2 and 3 (NIV), Hosea 6:1
Song of Confession: Lord, Lord, Lord (Have Mercy)
Assurance of Pardon: 1 Peter 2:24-25, and John 10:27-28
Hymn of Assurance: He Will Hold Me Fast
Catechism/Congregational Prayers
Reading of the Word: Luke 5:17-26
Doxology: #731 (to Duke Street)
Sermon: Rev. Eric Irwin
Tithes and Offerings
The Lord’s Supper: Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy; My Jesus, I Love Thee (#648)
Closing Hymn: There is a Higher Throne

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
Text: Edward Perronett, st. 1-5(1780); John Rippon, st. 6 (1787)
Tune: Coronation, Oliver Holden (1793)

The year is 1780. A fledgling American republic is embroiled in a war for independence, and across the Atlantic a preacher with a similar revolutionary spirit is writing hymn verse for his own church, which has dissented from the Church of England. His text is based on Philippians 2:9-11 (“every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord”) and Revelations 4:10-11 where all the living creatures and elders cast their crowns before the throne and cry out:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

The original stanzas of “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” which was first entitled “On the Resurrection,” are an impassioned acknowledgment that Christ transcends all, conquers all, and unifies all. “Crown Him Lord of All” finishes every verse, and there is a real defiance and fierceness to the triumphant tone of each stanza. It is no wonder that this hymn has become so popular in American churches, and has even been called “The national anthem of Christendom.”

The author of this famous hymn was Edward Perronet. Peronnet was family friends with John and Charles Wesley. He met them through his father, a clergyman in the Church of England. Like many sons in the 18th century, Edward planned to follow in his father’s footsteps, but the Wesleys lured him away and he became a traveling Methodist preacher. Edward is remembered in history books as a gifted preacher and skilled writer who, over time, developed a strong antagonism toward the Church of England. Apparently his quick temper and impatience were trouble for the Wesleys, who must have become weary with their disagreeable and fussy colleague. Edward eventually left the Methodist movement altogether and decided to lead his own independent church until his death in 1792. History books can color character in certain ways, and we can’t be sure as to the true measure of Edward’s ministry. But no matter how irascible his nature or fierce his independence, one thing is clear from the writing in this singular and timeless hymn. It is obvious that Edward loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and was submitted wholly to him. Here is a seemingly stubborn man that found in Jesus a love so powerful, a grace so compelling, a forgiveness so formidable that these overwhelmed him and he surrendered his soul and could honestly declare “All hail the power of Jesus.” I imagine he is now among those who are kneeling before the throne, to his left are probably the Wesleys, and to his right are a bunch of Anglicans.
I pray that one day we will join Edward and all the others in true ecumenical praise. With harmonies not yet heard, producing an overflow of overtones, we will delight in these hymns as never before. One of the things I love about the great hymns of our faith is that they have a way of making manifest, even if only for a few minutes, the reality that we are, in all our distinctions and denominations, the body of Christ. In this unifying spirit, I offer the following recording from our Pentecostal brothers and sisters in South Africa. From halfway around the world, in a church tradition very different than ours, they sing to us these words: “Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball, to him all majesty ascribe and Crown Him Lord of All.” And we respond by singing, “O that with yonder sacred throng, we at His feet may fall. We’ll join the everlasting song and Crown Him Lord of All.” Let the antiphonal adoration abroad, and through the ages, go on and on and on…

Sheet music

There Is a Higher Throne
Words and Music by Keith and Kristyn Getty (2002)

“Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

– Rev. 7:13-17

The Gettys are perhaps the most widely known hymnwriters in the world today. They have produced dozens of songs that are regularly sung in all denominations across the globe. At CPC, we have several of their songs on our Presbyterian playlist, and these immensely popular tunes always scratch an itch. If you were to make a jukebox of contemporary hymnody and put it in the corner of our lobby, at least one quarter out of every dollar inserted would turn up a Getty hymn. Getty sounds almost like “giddy”; fitting, because there is something infectious about this music. The Gettys frequently collaborate with fellow musician Stuart Townend, with whom they have produced “In Christ Alone,” “The Power of the Cross,” “My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness,” and many others. This song was the very first collaboration between Keith (pianist/composer) and his wife Kristyn (singer/lyricist). It is based on the passage in Revelation that describes the ceaseless party around the throne. It is a jam session that never stops. There is feasting and rejoicing day and night as the ransomed ones from every tribe worship the Lamb who has become their Shepherd King. I imagine inexhaustible singing and dancing. Depicting a scene like this calls for music that is irresistible in tone, cyclical in form, and almost inevitable in its cadence. Keith uses predictable, repetitive harmonies and an arching melody that could almost fit as a track on a Bruce Springsteen album. It feels very much to me like some sort of Presbyterian power-ballad (hair-tossing and head-banging is encouraged on Sunday!). Kristen has rendered the scriptural passage faithfully with some striking images and poetry of simple clarity. The Gettys’ combination of folk-inspired melodies and accessible theology is a winning formula, and I believe that many of these hymns will stand the test of time.

Someday at a morning service, 50 years from now, when CPC has become a thriving mega-church surrounded by high-rise condos filled with software engineers from all around the world, a young music director will get up and announce, “today we’re going to sing a classic hymn called ‘There is a Higher Throne.’ It’s an oldy, but a Getty.”