Summary: This is a Hymnology Sermon Series teaching the stories behind some of the most well known hymns found in our hymnal.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
“All Hail the Power of Jesus Name”
We are beginning a new sermon series today called “Hymnology 101.” We will spend the next four weeks looking at some of the most famous hymns in Christiandom, and learning the history behind the words that we sing. Think of it like VH1 “Behind the Music” but for church.
The first hymn we will be looking at has been called the “National Anthem of Christendom.” It is one of the most famous and recognizable hymns that we have. It has been translated into every single Christian language, and has been included in over 2,300 American hymnals alone. It was first written in 1779 by an Englishman, Edward Perronet.
Edward Perronet was the son of an Anglican priest. Born in Kent, England… Perronet’s family was already quite familiar with trials and tribulations. Edward's Protestant grandparents had fled Catholic France, going first to Switzerland then to relative safety of England. Edward followed in his father’s footsteps… becoming a Vicar himself. He eventually became very close to the famous English reformer John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley during England's eighteenth century revival.
Now, I already said that England was only “relatively” safe for Protestants. In time, Edward would be exposed to his own trials and persecutions. Edward would often travel with John and Charles Wesley, and in one of John Wesley's journal, we find this entry: "Edward Perronet was thrown down and rolled in mud and mire. Stones were hurled and windows broken." We might think things are tense between different denominations now… but it is nothing in comparison to what it was like back then.
Edward was also subjected to some strife between himself and the Wesleys. Though considered a capable preacher, Perronet was uneasy about doing so in front of John Wesley, despite Wesley's persistent urging. Finally, one Sunday… Wesley simply announced that Brother Perronet would be giving the sermon that day. So, unable to resist any longer… Edward mounted the pulpit and declared he would deliver the greatest sermon ever preached. He then proceeded to read Christ's "Sermon on the Mount"; after which, he immediately sat down. I couldn’t find if John Wesley after asked him to preach again.
The conflict didn’t stop at sermons either… In time, Edward broke with the Wesleys over various Methodist policies, and in retribution, John Wesley excluded his hymns from all of the Methodist hymnals.
Finally, Edwards… frustrated with the Methodist Church’s stance on separation of church and state… he went off to pastor a small independent church in Canterbury, where he died on January 22, 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.”
A life lived… in conflict… strife… persecution… and separation. It was a life that led to the writing of “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.” A hymn… in its simplicity proclaims an powerful truth. That one day… all will be equal at the feet of our Lord. The original 8 verses declare the power of our Lord:
Angels (heaven itself) shall fall at his feet,
Stars (creation itself) shall fall at his feet,
Martyrs (the very best of us) shall fall at his feet,
Israel itself shall fall at his feet,
The heirs of David’s line (Kings and Queens) shall fall at his feet,
Sinners (that’s all of us) shall fall at his feet,
Indeed… every kindred, every tribe shall fall at his feet.
No one is left out. In one instant all that divides us… all that separates us… all that keeps us apart shall be washed away, as we all equally shall fall at the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, and crown him lord of all!
That is the same message found from Paul in our scripture message today. Writing to the Philippians, Paul knew about their strife… Paul knew about their division… Paul knew about how they were putting each other down, and he points to Christ with these words: