The Story Behind: Jesus Paid It All

by Taylor Brantley

One of the most challenging aspects of public speaking is keeping the audience’s attention. Pastors, of course, face this challenge weekly. But no matter how masterful a sermon they may deliver, there will inevitably be a few wandering minds sat in those pews. Perhaps pastors can take solace in the fact that God can use those wandering minds just as easily as He can use the attentive. The prime example of this lies within the story of “Jesus Paid It All.”

The Wandering Mind of Elvina Hall

It happened on a warm summer day in Baltimore, 1865. Initially, there was nothing special about that day for Elvina Hall. It was just another Sunday for her to sing in the choir at Monument Methodist Episcopal Church. The pastor, Reverend Schrick, was preaching a lengthy sermon, and Elvina’s mind began wandering. Though, to her credit, it did wander to good things. She began thinking of the cross, and the sacrifice Jesus made for the world.

Inspiration Strikes

As Reverend Schrick went into a rather wordy prayer, Elvina began writing a poem. She had no paper, so she wrote on the flyleaf of her hymnbook.

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

At last, Reverend Schrick’s sermon came to a close. Hall perhaps could not have given a thorough synopsis of the sermon, but she did have a poem she was quite proud of. She went to show her work to Reverend Schrick after the sermon, and as it turned out, the reverend was quite proud of Hall’s poem too. Hall only wanted to share her work then be on her way, but the reverend had something else in mind.

A Divine Coincidence

As it turned out, another church member had presented a creative work of their own to the reverend earlier that week. The other member was named John Grape, and he was the church’s organist. Grape had written a tune for a hymn, yet had no lyrics for it. Reverend Schrick took Hall’s lyrics to see if they could go along with Grape’s tune. He expected changes would be needed for the two to actually fit, but to his great surprise and joy, he found the tune and lyrics fit flawlessly.

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

Hall and Grape worked together in the following days to perfect their hymn. At last, they brought their final work to Reverend Schrick. It was beyond anything the reverend initially hoped for, and by his prodding, Hall and Grape submitted “Jesus Paid It All” to Professor Theodore Perkins, a publisher of Sabbath Carols. Perkins eagerly published the hymn, and soon the world was introduced to the timeless classic that is still being sung today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Does the Bible say Jesus paid it all?

A: The phrase “Jesus paid it all” is not explicitly stated in the Bible. However, the concept behind it is deeply rooted in many passages of Scripture. The idea stems from the Christian belief that Jesus Christ sacrificed his life on the cross to atone for humanity’s sins. When Christians say “Jesus paid it all,” they are referencing this sacrifice and asserting that Jesus’s act was a complete payment, covering every sin for those who believe in Him.

Q: What Scripture is “Jesus Paid It All” based on?

A: “Jesus Paid It All” is connected to the New Testament’s central theme, referencing Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Although no specific Scripture directly states ‘Jesus paid it all’, this message is quite consistent with several Biblical passages. For instance, 1 Peter 2:24 claims Jesus bore our sins on the cross, and John 19:30 reports Jesus’s conclusive words: “It is finished.” Isaiah 1:18 speaks of sins being as white as snow despite being red like crimson, which can be linked to the “crimson flow” referred to in the hymn.

Download sheet music, chord charts, tracks, multitracks and instrumental parts for Jesus Paid It All exclusively with a hymncharts subscription. You won’t find this arrangement on any other website.

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