What Are We Singing: All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
- Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Look up "PC" in the dictionary and you'll find a number of definitions.
- Personal Computer
- Post Card
- Presbyterian Church
- 1 parsec = 3.2616 light years
- It's even a split 7" vinyl single by the Huntington Beach, California punk rock band Guttermouth
It's also a term meaning "Politically Correct."
Being "PC" means "treating other people's religion, culture, etc. with sensitivity." Nothing wrong with that, of course, unless being so PC about someone else's religion and/or religious beliefs drowns out your own. I've even heard Christians being "PC" with each other over their differing denominations. No need to ruffle feathers, I suppose they are thinking. No need to start an argument in the body of Christ. Toes and fingers all up in arms.
"The problem with America today," I recently heard someone lament, "is that Christianity has been asked to shut up. Christians have been asked to stop doing what the Bible has demanded of them. And, shame on us, we've complied."
The result is that we say things like "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas." We look to the government to feed the poor versus doing it through our ministries as Christ would have us do.
Yesterday, I stood in the presence of the good folks where I attend church. Our congregation sings a variety of both old hymns and contemporary worship in our services. Perhaps even that is a form of PC-ness. I can't say for sure, of course, I'm not on the song-choosing committee.
While some may not approve of one or the other, personally, I find joy in both. There's something rich about the old tunes … something uplifting about the new.
During services, the first hymn we sang was All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name. I sang along without needing the words projected on the overhead, without needing even so much as a hymnal. I'd sung these words my whole life. I'd planted their words in my heart and watched them blossom from seeds to fruit. But this time, a tiny thought tickled my brain as we sang.
What's so PC about All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name?
Nothing. And that's the point.
Often referred to as the "National Anthem of Christiandom," All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name was written by Edward Perronet (1726-1792), the son of an Anglican priest. Perronet worked closely with brothers John and Charles Wesley (cofounders of Methodism) for many years in their homeland of England during the 18th century revival. Eventually, after conflict of interest over denominational issues (I'm not making that up just to fit the story, either!), they parted ways.
The hymn first appeared in the November 1779 issue of Gospel Magazine. It was titled On the Resurrection, the Lord is King, and its author was listed as being anonymous. It was several months before the editor revealed its authorship.
It also has a place in missionary history. Rev. E. P. Scott, missionary to India, wrote of trying to reach a savage tribe in the Indian subcontinent. Ignoring warnings given to him by his friends, he set off, ready for whatever danger he might face. Several days later, he met a large party of warriors. They surrounded him with their spears pointed at his heart. Expecting to die at any moment, Scott took out his violin, breathed a prayer, closed his eyes, and began singing All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name! When he reached the words, "Let every kindred, every tribe," he opened his eyes. There stood the warriors, some in tears, every spear lowered. Scott spent the next two years evangelizing the tribe. 
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