The Story Behind…
All Hail the Power of Jesu’s Name
Twenty miles southeast of London, below the first line of chalk hills which form the southern ramparts of Britain lies the pretty village of Shoreham. A giant cross is scored on the hill facing the parish church, under whose roof Edward Perronet first knew “the power of Jesu’s name.” His father was vicar there from 1728 to 1785, and in the church there is a memorial to Vincent Perronet’s long and holy ministry.
John Wesley himself used to come over the downs on horseback and along the Darent valley to visit Vincent, of whom he once wrote, “O that I may follow him in holiness.” To the young Edward, John Wesley was hero, and he followed him on his journeys, once being thrown down and rolled in the mud by a crowd in Bolton, Lancashire. Like Timothy and Paul he was one of John Wesley’s “sons in the gospel,” but he parted from his master on the question of lay administration of the Sacraments, and eventually became the minister of an independent church in Canterbury.
Often called the “Coronation Hymn,” Perronet’s hymn appeared in the Gospel Magazine for 1779, together with the tune Miles Lane by a former chorister of Canterbury Cathedral, Edward Shrubsole, a tune which generations have indissolubly linked with this magnificent hymn. Edward Elgar is said to have pronounced the tune the finest in English hymnody.
Perronet’s hymn so splendidly affirms the “crown rights” of Christ over all life, and makes a triumphant proclamation of the claims of Christ the King.
Separated though he was from the church of his boyhood, Edward Perronet was buried in the cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral, not far from his native valley.