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“Jesus Paid It All”

TITLE: "Jesus Paid It All"
AUTHOR: Elvina M. Hall
COMPOSER: John T. Grape
SOURCES: Worship & Song, no. 3100
SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 11:19; Psalm 51:7; Isaiah 1:16-18; John 1:29; Romans 5:6-8; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 2:1-9; 1 Peter 2:24; Revelation 5:11-14
TOPICS: assurance; Calvary; cleanse; blood of Christ; cross; justifying grace; Passion & death; Lamb of God; pardon; power & might; prayer; redemption; salvation; sinfulness; throne; weakness

The circumstances surrounding the composition of a hymn's text and tune and then the joining of the two are often serendipitous, or if you prefer, Spirit-led.

John T. Grape was born in Baltimore, Maryland, May 6, 1835, and died in Baltimore November 2, 1915. He was a successful coal merchant and member of the Monument Street Methodist Church in Baltimore. He also played the organ, directed the choir, and was active in the Sunday school. He later directed the choir at the Hartford Avenue Methodist Church. He composed this tune independently of the text and called it ALL TO CHRIST I OWE. He gave a copy to his pastor, who was unimpressed with it and set it aside.

Elvina Mable Hall (June 4, 1822, Alexandria, Virginia-July 18, 1889, Ocean Grove, New Jersey) married Richard Hall of Virginia. After his death, she married the Rev. Thomas Meyers, a Methodist pastor in the Baltimore Conference. She was also a 40-year member of the Monument Street Methodist Church in Baltimore and a member of the choir. She composed these words in 1865, sitting in the choir loft during the pastor's sermon. Not having any paper, she wrote them inside the cover of her hymnal. She composed the four stanzas and titled them "Jesus Paid It All," and gave a copy to the pastor.

The Rev. George W. Schreck, pastor of the Monument Street Methodist Church, upon reading Hall's hymn, remembered the tune he had been given by John Grape. The meter of the text and tune were agreeable, except that Grape's tune had a refrain. Hall then added the words of the refrain to fit and the hymn was complete. At Schreck's urging, they sent the hymn to Professor Theodore Perkins, publisher of the Sabbath Carols periodical, where it received its first publication. It has been a favorite of many American Christians ever since.

The notes of both melody and harmony are, with one exception, completely diatonic, and with three exceptions, pentatonic. The tune consists of tonic and dominant harmonies except for the internal cadence on the subdominant at the third measure from the end, a point at which many congregations will place a fermata ("stain"). Musically, the tune is structured AA'BB' and is contained entirely within an octave.

This hymn is appropriately placed in the PARDON division of the JUSTIFYING GRACE section of Worship & Song. Perhaps resulting from the fact that the four stanzas were composed first as a unit and the refrain text added later, there is a division between content of stanza and refrain. The four stanzas speak of our human weakness and failure, our need for salvation and the power and grace we receive through Jesus Christ. The refrain centers on the debt we owe to God as a result of our sin and the fact that that debt was paid through Jesus' death on the cross.

  • Stanza One: Jesus says that we are weak and through watching and prayer, we will find all that we need.
  • Stanza Two: It is in Jesus that we find the power to change our lives and our hearts.
  • Stanza Three: We are meritless to claim God's grace. It is Jesus' shed blood that saves us.
  • Stanza Four: When we are finally judged by God, we shall proclaim our salvation through Jesus' death.
  • Refrain: The debt of our sin was paid by Jesus.


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