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June Hymn: "Jesus Paid It All"

“Jesus Paid It All” was written by two members of the Monument Street Methodist Church in Baltimore, MD in 1865. Elvina Hall, a choir member, penned the words while the Rev. George W. Schreck delivered a long-winded prayer during a Sunday morning service. Having no paper to write on, she scribbled the words on the flyleaf of her hymnal! Around the same time, church organist and choir director John Thomas Grape submitted a new hymn tune to the Reverend titled “All to Christ I Owe” for which he had no words. Upon seeing Hall’s lyrics, Rev. Schreck thought to combine the separate contributions. In this way, the current well-loved hymn “Jesus Paid It All” was born.

I first heard this hymn in a contemporary arrangement in college. The melodic hook and bridge were added to the original hymn’s melody and lyrics, and I believe they preserve and enhance the long-standing, powerful message of the cross that Hall and Grape composed over a century ago. You can listen to Kristian Stanfill’s arrangement here. The original hymn boasted six verses. Most hymnals now publish verses 1, 2, 4, and 6.

This hymn has stood the test of time in our churches, both traditional and contemporary, because of the eloquence with which it expounds the saving sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. The imagery of sin’s crimson stain that is washed away by the blood of Christ is a strong reminder of our own sin and the great provision of God through Jesus. This great gospel-saturated hymn is a wonderful proclamation for the month of June – we have a Savior who has given us exactly what we need and don’t deserve. We have incredible reason to lay our lives down at his feet now, and future hope that we will one day do the same before His presence in glory!

Jesus Paid It All (No. 489 in The Worshiping Church)

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.