Story Behind the hymn Alleluia! Sing to Jesus

William Chatterton Dix (b. June 14, 1837; d. Sept. 9, 1898).  William Chatterton Dix, the son of a surgeon, was born in Bristol, England.   He eventually had a career in marine insurance in Glasgow.  Dix took a great interest in poetry and in the symbolism involved in our worship services.   He found great comfort in writing verse, and this is evidenced by the many hymns credited to him.   Someone once said of Dix, “Few modern writers have shown so single a gift as his for the difficult art of hymn-writing.”[1]   Many of his hymns and carols may be familiar to you, including, “What Child is This?”, “As with Gladness, Men of Old”, and, “Come unto me, you weary”.

In addition to writing pieces of prose and verse for various magazines and hymns, he published two devotional books, Light; and The Risen Life, 1883; and a book of instructions for children entitled The Pattern Life, 1885.

He died September 9, 1898, Cheddar, Somerset, England, and was buried at the parish church, Cheddar, Somerset, England.

No peace unless herdsmen move freely —Northern group

William Dix wrote “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus” as a communion hymn for Ascension Sunday. This hymn was originally called “Redemption through the Precious Blood” and was inspired by Revelation 5:9, “And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy . . . for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood.” The hymn proclaims “His the triumph, His the victory alone.” “Jesus . . . hath redeemed us by His blood.”  And, “Though the cloud from sight received Him,” sings of Christ’s ascension. Even as He assured us He would not leave us as orphans, this hymn also reminds us of His faithful promise, “I am with you evermore.”  The hymn expresses praise to Jesus for what He has done and is doing for us.

The first verse praises Christ for His victory.  Throughout the Old Testament, the coming Messiah is pictured as sitting upon the throne with His scepter, both symbols of kingship and authority.

– : Psalm 45: 6, for example:  “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.  The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness”.    Christ, the Lamb sacrificed for us, gains the final victory over sin and death to provide redemption through His blood: Ephesians 1:7:  “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses…”

The second verse praises Christ for His promises and reminds us of them – they are for all of us if we come to Him in faith and trust and accept Him.   Jesus told His disciples that He would not leave them “comfortless,” a term which in the original language literally means ‘orphans’: see John. 14.18-20 – “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”  And, that He is always with us!  (Matthew 28:20 – “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”)

The third verse praises Christ for his Intercession on our behalf.   Christ ever pleads with God for us, for our needs and forgiveness.   (Hebrews 9:11) We also sing praise to Him that the source of our life is in Him as our true “food and stay” – see John 6.53-58.   If we draw close to Christ and, through him to the Father, He continually acts as our advocate to plead for us – see Hebrews 7:25.  Can we have a better One to argue on our behalf?

Verse four praises Christ for his Lordship – Having been born fully man he knows and owns our human nature and, being also fully God, he can carry that frail nature to the Throne of God for healing and redemption (1 Timothy 3:16 and Hebrews 9: 11-12).  We, in our worship, ever acknowledge Him as the source of our life – on earth and through eternity – the actual sacrifice of Christ is repeated in the observance of the Eucharist (our true “Thanksgiving”).

Throughout the hymn there is an emphasis on Christ being with us at all times as our Redeemer, Intercessor, Lord and Friend who is our heavenly manna, sustaining us with spiritual nourishment and for this, it is right and meet to always give thanks and praise.

1 Alleluia![2] Sing to Jesus!

His the sceptre[3], his the throne;

Alleluia! His the triumph,

his the victory alone.

Hark! The songs of peaceful Sion[4]

thunder like a mighty flood.

Jesus, out of every nation,

Hath redeemed us by his blood.