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Some men gain fame through a long life of work and achievement; others through a single notable deed. The latter is true in a very remarkable sense of Edward Perronet, author of the Church’s great coronation hymn, “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name.”

“Perronet, bird of a single song, but O how sweet!” is the charming tribute of Bishop Fess in referring to this inspired hymn and its author.

Although Perronet was a man of more than ordinary ability, his name probably would have been lost to posterity had he not written the coronation hymn. An associate of the Wesleys for many years, Perronet also wrote three volumes of sacred poems, some of unusual merit. All of them, however, have been practically forgotten except his one immortal hymn. So long as there are Christians on earth, it will continue to be sung, and after that—in heaven!

Perronet came from a distinguished line of French Protestants who had found refuge in England during times of religious persecution in their homeland. His father, Rev. Vincent Perronet, was vicar of Shoreham. Both father and son, though ardent supporters of the Established Church, became intensely interested in the great evangelical revival under Whitefield and the Wesleys. At one time young Perronet traveled with John Wesley. Much opposition had been stirred up against the Wesleyan movement, and in some places the preachers were threatened by mobs. Concerning 240 these experiences, Wesley makes the following notation in his diary:

“From Rockdale we went to Bolton, and soon found that the Rockdale lions were lambs in comparison with those of Bolton. Edward Perronet was thrown down and rolled in mud and mire. Stones were hurled and windows broken.”

On another occasion it is recorded that Wesley wanted to hear Perronet preach. The author of our hymn, however, seems to have been somewhat reluctant about preaching in the presence of the great reformer. Wesley, nevertheless, without consulting Perronet, announced in church that the young man would occupy the pulpit on the following morning. Perronet said nothing, but on the morrow he mounted the pulpit and explained that he had not consented to preach. “However,” he added, “I shall deliver the best sermon that has ever been preached on earth,” whereupon he read the Sermon on the Mount from beginning to end, adding not a word of comment!

“All hail the power of Jesus’ Name” has been translated into almost every language where Christianity is known, and wherever it is sung it seems to grip human hearts. One of the most remarkable stories of the power of this hymn is related by Rev. E. P. Scott, a missionary to India. Having learned of a distant savage tribe in the interior to whom the gospel had not yet been preached, this missionary, despite the warnings of his friends, packed his baggage and, taking his violin, set out on his perilous venture. After traveling several days, he suddenly came upon a large party of the savages who surrounded him and pointed their spears at him.

Believing death to be near, the missionary nevertheless 241 took out his violin and with a prayer to God began to sing “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name!” He closed his eyes as he sang, expecting every moment to be pierced through with the threatening spears. When he reached the stanza, “Let every kindred, every tribe,” he opened his eyes. What was his surprise to see every spear lowered, and many of the savages moved to tears!

He remained for two years and a half, preaching the story of redemption and leading many of the natives to Jesus. When he was about to return to America on furlough, they pleaded, “O missionary, come back to us again!” He did so, and finally passed away in the midst of these people who had learned to love the man who had brought them the gospel of Christ.

It is interesting to know that, while the people of both England and America prize this hymn very highly, they sing it to different melodies. The tune used in America is called “Coronation” and was composed by a carpenter of Charlestown, Mass., by the name of Oliver Holden. This man was very fond of music and spent his spare time in playing a little organ on which he composed his tunes. The organ may still be seen in Boston.

Thus an English minister and an American carpenter have united in giving the world an immortal hymn.

Perronet died January 2, 1792. His last words were:

“Glory to God in the height of His divinity!

Glory to God in the depth of His humanity!

Glory to God in His all-sufficiency!

Into His hands I commend my spirit.”

Two other hymn-writers who, like Perronet, were associated with the Wesleyan movement may be mentioned 242 in this connection. They were John Cennick and William Williams. Like Perronet, too, each was the author of one great hymn, and through that hymn their names have been preserved to posterity.

Cennick, who was of Bohemian ancestry, first met John Wesley in 1739. Of that meeting Wesley has the following notation in his diary: “On Friday, March 1739, I came to Reading, where I found a young man who had in some measure known the powers of the world to come. I spent the evening with him and a few of his serious friends, and it pleased God much to strengthen and comfort them.”

For a while Cennick assisted Wesley as a lay preacher, but in 1741 he forsook the Methodist movement on account of Wesley’s “free grace” doctrines and organized a society of his own along Calvinistic lines. Later he joined himself to John Whitefield as an evangelist, but finally he went over to the Moravians, in which communion he labored abundantly until his death in 1755 at the early age of thirty-seven years.

To Cennick we are indebted for the majestic hymn on the theme of Christ’s second coming, “Lo! He comes, with clouds descending.” James King, in his “Anglican Hymnology,” gives this hymn third place among the hymns of the Anglican Church, it being excelled in his estimation only by Bishop Ken’s “All praise to Thee, my God, this night” and Wesley’s “Hark! the herald angels sing.” Cennick has also bequeathed to the Church the lovely hymn, “Children of the heavenly King.” Though he wrote and published many more hymns, they are mostly of an inferior order.

Williams, a Welshman by birth, has also left a hymn that has gone singing down through the centuries. It is the 243 rugged and stirring hymn that sets forth in such striking imagery the experiences of the Israelites in the wilderness, “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah.”

Williams, who earned the title of the “Watts of Wales,” wrote the hymn originally in Welsh. Of him it has been said that “He did for Wales what Wesley and Watts did for England, or what Luther did for Germany.” His first hymn-book, “Hallelujah,” was published in 1744, when he was only twenty-seven years old.

The Welsh hymnist originally intended to enter the medical profession, but, after passing through a spiritual crisis, he was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England. Because of his free methods of evangelism, he was denied full ordination, and later identified himself with the Wesleyan revival. Like Cennick and Perronet, however, he soon forsook the Wesleys, and now we find him a Calvinistic Methodist, having adopted Wales as his parish. He was a powerful preacher and an unusual singer, and for forty-five years he carried on a blessed work until, on January 11, 1791, he passed through “the swelling current” and was landed “safe on Canaan’s side.”

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