And I love both: the uplifting, soul-sharing message of the current worship songs as well as the theological, thought-provoking hymns of yore.
What I also enjoy are the stories behind the songs and hymns.
In a recent Sunday service, the pre-communion song was a hymn I hadn’t heard in a long time: “Jesus Paid It All.” It is such a beautiful hymn that I decided to look up the story behind it.
In short, Elvina Hall was sitting in the choir loft. Her pastor (Reverend Schrick) had just begun to preach, and when he mentioned God’s forgiveness and love, her attention moved immediately from the sermon to her own thoughts about “all that Christ has already done to provide our redemption.” She used the rest of the sermon not to listen to Reverend Schrick but to put those thoughts to pen and paper and write a poem.
Shortly after, she made this confession to her pastor and asked him if he would look at the verses while she waited.
He agreed and told her not to feel guilty, that “when the Word of God finds root in our lives . . . the Holy Spirit [can] take these talents and use them to bring a great spiritual blessing to His people.”
But the story doesn’t stop there. As he was reading, a tune his organist (John Grape) had penned and shared with him just days before came to mind. He had Elvina say the words aloud as she meant for them to be read while he played the tune in his head. According to Reverend Schrick it was a perfect match. And the rest is history.
This was not a coincidence. “Jesus Paid It All” is a collaboration of four: John Grape’s tune, the catalytic first few words of Reverend Schrick’s sermon, Elvina Hall’s poem, and the Holy Spirit who orchestrated the whole thing. That fourth member is always at work, nudging one to action, then moving this piece here and that piece there before bringing all the pieces together.
I have attached the words to “Jesus Paid It All” in case you don’t already know the lyrics and would like to see them. The site also provides the Newsboys rendition of the hymn. It has a couple of extra drums I’m sure John Grape hadn’t expected, but the tune has not been touched, albeit a tad bit louder. Enjoy.
“Jesus Paid It All.” 101 More Hymn Stories. Regal Publications: Grand Rapids , Michigan. 1985. (pp. 160-161)