Posted by: rcottrill | November 26, 2010

Today in 1819 – James Ellor Born

James Ellor was born in Droylsden, a village about three miles from Manchester, England. He was not a hymn writer, but was a hat maker by trade. In fact, most of the inhabitants of his little village were employed at the hat making factory. However, in the evening, many of the folk gathered to practice hymns to be sung at the Wesleyan Chapel on the next Lord’s Day. James Ellor was their leader, the music they produced attracted attention for miles around. Many would attend the services just to enjoy the blessing of the music.

One day in 1838, when Ellor was 19, he brought his choir a new tune he’d composed for the hymn All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name. He had written it for the occasion of a Sunday School anniversary in their home church. The tune, called Diadem, was enthusiastically received, and it has been used with the hymn ever since. In 1843, James Ellor came to America, resuming his hat making trade on this side of the Atlantic.

Ellor is remembered in hymnody solely for his great hymn tune. In my view, it is the best tune for this marvelous hymn. There is a wonderful running bass part in the refrain that enhances the melody. If you have a congregation that can sing it, it will certainly adorn and enrich the powerful message of the hymn.

There are two other tunes commonly found in hymnals with this hymn. One is Miles Lane (also called Shrubsole after the composer, William Shrubsole). The composer was a personal friend of Edward Perronet who wrote the words, and he produced the tune expressly to go with them. It is a dramatic melody, and is quite common in Britain. Its only drawback is its octave-and-a-half range, which is too much for many singers. The other tune used for All Hail the Power is Coronation, by Oliver Holden. This seems to be the common setting for the hymn in many hymnals in America.

All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown Him Lord of all!

Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all!

Listen to the performance of this glorious hymn and the tune Diadem, as sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This is not an endorsement of Mormon theology, but I do believe their version captures something of the joyful exuberance of the song. For congregational use, I’d take it a bit slower–something closer to the choir’s final stanza. A slower pace gives more of a sense of majesty.

(2) O Teach Me What It Meaneth (Data Missing)
How little we understand of the meaning of the cross. We may have the basics, but there is so much more. This fine hymn is a prayer for the Lord to help us understand more.

The hymn O Teach Me What It Meaneth is ascribed to English hymn writer Lucy Ann Bennett, of whom we know little. She was born some time in 1850, and died in 1927. [Since this blog was written, more information has come to light. The author’s dates are: b. Jan. 8, 1850; d. Mar. 10, 1927.] Here is the hymn, in part. The whole song is worth a look, and you can see it on the Cyber Hymnal.

O teach me what it meaneth,
That cross uplifted high,
With One, the Man of Sorrows,
Condemned to bleed and die!
O teach me what it cost Thee
To make a sinner whole;
And teach me, Saviour, teach me
The value of a soul!

O teach me what it meaneth,
Thy love beyond compare,
The love that reacheth deeper
Than depths of self-despair!
Yes, teach me, till there gloweth
In this cold heart of mine
Some feeble, pale reflection
Of that pure love of Thine.

O infinite Redeemer!
I bring no other plea;
Because Thou dost invite me
I cast myself on Thee.
Because Thou dost accept me
I love and I adore;
Because Thy love constraineth,
I’ll praise Thee evermore!


  1. […] Several tunes have been commonly used with this text. For a discussion of them, and my opinion as to which is best, see Today in 1819. […]

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns (Edward Perronet, and see the three tunes) The Cyber […]


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