"ALLELUIA! SING TO JESUS!"
"Alleluia: Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God…" (Rev. 19.1)
INTRO.: A hymn which praises Christ the Lord for His salvation, glory, honor, and power is "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!" The text was written by William Chatterton Dix, who was born at Bristol, England, on June 14, 1837, the son of John Dix, a surgeon who also was the author of a Life of Chatterton (Thomas Chatterton, the poet), for whom his son was named. Educated at the Bristol Grammar School, William, whose avocations were languages and poetry, entered the mercantile business and rose to become the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland. Even though he possessed only a scanty academic training, he was an excellent student and produced a large number of hymns, over forty, some which are metrical renderings of English translations from the Greek. Perhaps Dix’s best-known songs generally are "What Child Is This?" and "As With Gladness Men of Old." Many of his hymns were published in his works Hymns of Love and Joy of 1861; Altar Songs, Verses on the Holy Eucharist of 1867, in which "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus," penned in 1866 as a result of need felt by the author for more communion hymns to be used in the Church of England, first appeared under the title, "Redemption in the Precious Blood;" A Vision of All Saints of 1871; and Seekers of a City of 1878. Others were contributed to Hymns Ancient and Modern, Lyra Eucharistica, The Hymnary, Church Hymns, and others. Dix died at Clifton near Cheddar in Somerset, England, on Sept. 9, 1898.
The tune (Hyfrydol) most often used with this hymn was composed by Rowland Hugh Prichard (1811-1887). Produced around 1830 or 1831, it was first published in his 1844 Cyfaill y Cantorion (The Singer’s Friend). Sometimes the date of 1855 is given; that was when it was reprinted in Griffith Harris’s Halelwiah Drachefn (Hallelujah Again) after which it became well known. The modern harmonization was made by Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958). It was first published in The English Hymnal of 1906. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ this hymn appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand. The 1975 Supplement to the 1937 Great Songs of the Church, originally edited by E. L. Jorgenson, used this same tune with Charles Wesley’s "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus." The 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise edited by Alton H. Howard used the tune, as arranged in 1910 by Robert Harkness, with J. Wilbur Chapman’s "Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners" (or "Our Great Savior").
The hymn expresses praise to Jesus for what He has done and is doing for us.
I. Stanza 1 praises Christ for His victory
"Alleluia! Sing to Jesus! His the sceptre, His the throne;
Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.
Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion Thunder like a mighty flood;
Jesus, out of every nation, Has redeemed us by His blood."
A. Throughout the Old Testament, the coming Messiah is pictured as sitting upon the throne with His scepter: Ps. 45:6-7
B. The concept of the songs of peaceful Zion thundering like a mighty flood is drawn from the vision of the Lamb: Rev. 5.1-9
C. The Lamb gained the victory over sin and death to provide redemption through His blood: Eph. 1.7
II. Stanza 2 praises Christ for His promise
"Alleluia! not as orphans Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us Faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received Him When the forty days were o’er,
Shall our hearts forget His promise, "I am with you evermore’?"
A. Jesus told His disciples that He would not leave them "comfortless," a term which in the original language literally means orphans: Jn. 14.18
B. Certainly, in a sense He did leave His disciples as the cloud received Him from their sight: Acts 1.9
C. However, in a spiritual yet very real sense He has promised to be with us even to the end of the age: Matt. 28.18-20
III. Stanza 3 praises Christ for His intercession
"Alleluia! heavenly High Priest, Thou on earth our help, our stay;
Alleluia! hear the sinful Cry to Thee from day to day.
Intercessor, Friend of sinners, Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless Sweep across the crystal sea."
A. The original first line read, "Alleluia! Bread of angels." Some books alter this to "Bread of heaven," as in Great Songs Revised, but both Christian Hymnal and Praise for the Lord change it to "Heavenly High Priest;" certainly, Jesus is our High Priest: Heb. 3.1, 8.1
B. The original second, third, and fourth lines read, "Thou on earth our food, our stay; Alleluia! here the sinful Flee to Thee from day to day," as in Great Songs Revised; again Christian Hymnal and Praise for the Lord make the changes. There is nothing wrong with considering Jesus "our food" so long as we understand the figurative nature of this idea: Jn. 6.53-58, 63. Perhaps this change was made to avoid connecting this concept with the denominational doctrine of transubstantiation. I do not see a whole lot of difference in meaning with the other changes, but perhaps they were made to be more consistent with the thought of Jesus’ mediatorship: 1 Tim. 3.5
C. As High Priest and Mediator, Jesus does live in heaven, "where the songs of all the sinless Sweep across the crystal sea" to make intercession for us: Heb. 7.25
IV. Stanza 4 praises Christ for His lordship
"Alleluia! King Eternal, Thee the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary, Earth Thy footstool, Heaven Thy throne.
Thou within the veil hast entered, Robed in flesh, our great High Priest;
Thou on earth both Priest and Victim In the Eucharistic Feast."
A. Jesus is the eternal King of kings and Lord of lords whom we own: Rev. 17.14
B. He was robed in flesh, being born of Mary on God’s footstool earth, but ascended back to God’s throne in heaven, and entered within the veil with His own blood: 1 Tim. 3.16, Heb. 9.11-12
C. This is what is meant by His being both Priest and Victim; I suspect that our books omit this verse because, again, it sounds like the denominational doctrine that the actual sacrifice of Christ is repeated in the observance of the Lord’s supper, and perhaps because of the term "Eucharistic Feast." We do not use the term "eucharist" because of its denominational connotations, but it comes from the Greek word "eucharisteo" which means "bless" or "give thanks" and is used when it is said that Jesus "blessed" the bread and cup or "gave thanks" for them: Matt. 26.26-27
CONCL.: If the language of the final stanza is understood figuratively, that we see Jesus as "for us both Priest and Victim In the great memorial feast" (should one want to change the words to make them more acceptable to us), then perhaps this song could be sung scripturally as a communion hymn. However, in general it is a great song of praise as we raise our voices together and say "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!"