OPENING ACTIVITY: Sweet Melody
We give a voice to whatever provokes a reaction in our emotions—happy, sad, good, or bad. Singing is one of those voices. Ask your students to think of a Christian song or hymn that is emotional for them for some reason. If they would like to, let them share with the students why the song means so much to them.
This week’s story is about Edward Perronet, who wrote a great hymn entitled “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” that is now sung around the world.
OPENING STORY: [Make copies of the story or read it aloud to your students.]
IS THIS THE GREATEST HYMN TO JESUS EVER WRITTEN?
All hail the power of Jesus’ name,
Let angels prostrate fall:
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown him Lord of All.
Edward Perronet wrote the great hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” that is sung all over the English-speaking world. It is a wonderful hymn, steeped in biblical knowledge and underpinned by a solid hope in the Gospel. But there is also a cheerful lightness of touch about it; this is a hymn to be sung with gladness.
Edward Perronet was born in 1726, descended from Huguenot refugees who had settled in England. His father was an Anglican vicar and Perronet became a Methodist, working closely with John and Charles Wesley. Like many early Methodists, he suffered for his faith: John Wesley wrote that Perronet was “thrown down and rolled in mud and mire” in Bolton once.
He was rather in awe of Wesley, who once attempted to get Perronet to preach in his place. So, Perronet announced that he would preach the greatest sermon ever preached and proceeded to read the Sermon on the Mount.
Perronet wrote three volumes of poetry, but “All Hail the Power” is the only one of his hymns to be regularly sung today. There are echoes of various texts within it. In Philippians 2:9-11, for instance, Paul says that “God exalted him to the highest place, and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. . . .” In Ephesians 1:20-22, he writes that God seated Christ at his right hand, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given. . . .” In Colossians 1:15, the apostle says that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation.”
Most of all we find in the hymn echoes of Revelation. The angels in chapter 5 worship the Lamb; in chapter 7 the martyrs dressed in white robes sing, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
The message of the hymn is that Jesus is King. It is not subtle verse, but it is not just a random assortment of texts, either. Perronet knew what he wanted to say. In the original version the hymn is much longer (like many from that era): if we were to sing it all, we would have “Crown him, ye morning stars of light, who fixed this floating ball,” and “Hail him, ye heirs of David’s line, whom David Lord did call,” among others. He wants to stress the absolute and unconditional Lordship of Christ. It is over Jews and Gentiles and over the whole created world, and everyone is called to bow down and acknowledge it; and if Perronet has missed anyone out, there is a catch-all verse at the end – “Let every kindred, every tribe/ On this terrestrial ball. . . .”
Interestingly, the last verse as we now sing it was added by John Rippon, the Baptist minister and hymn-book compiler, in 1787. He was a Calvinist, whose predecessor at the New Park Street Chapel was John Gill, who preached a theology of limited atonement. Rippon might have found such a full-blooded call for a universal repentance a little hard to take.
So, “O that with yonder sacred throng/ We at his feet may fall” has the effect of shifting the emphasis of the hymn from Perronet’s majestic, universal vision of Christ’s lordship to the personal status before God of the individual believer. It is an expression of hope, rather than precisely of assurance. It is a good last verse, but it is not the one Perronet wrote. Leaving it out changes the meaning back and leaves us with a completely different emphasis.
Ask your students to form small groups to discuss their answers to these questions.
- In what ways should a song exalt Jesus?
- What ways do we have of exalting God in addition to singing?
- Why is it important that we give constant praise to God?
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
PRAISE THE ALL-POWERFUL LORD
The Book of Psalms is full of poems, songs, and prayers written by multiple authors who exalt the glory of our great God! Psalm 150 sums up how we should praise God and why:
1 Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
2Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
4praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe,
5praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
6Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
- Start glorifying God this morning by picking a praise song or hymn you want to sing as a class. Then, every day this next week, encourage everyone to read a psalm or sing a praise song as you follow the command of the psalmist: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
Close the class in prayer, praising the Lord for His power and glory and the great mercy He has shown us.
THE BIBLE IN THE NEWS
What the seven churches of Revelation look like today in Muslim Turkey:
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