Go Tell It on the Mountain: Day 5

Jesus Paid It All


Today's Text: Isaiah 1:18, Mark 10:45, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Ephesians 1:13-14, 1 Peter 1:18-21, Revelation 5:11-14

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 1:18, Mark 10:45, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Ephesians 1:13-14, 1 Peter 1:18-21, Revelation 5:11-14

Whenever I imagine the writing of a hymn, I picture a Victorian-era man with mutton chops and mussed up hair, scribbling by the flickering light of a lantern. His fingers are smudged with ink as he prays and pens and receives inspiration. A piano sits nearby, where he taps out a tune to adorn his words. It’s a very holy, solitary affair.

Perhaps other hymns were written this way, but “Jesus Paid It All” was not. Of the hymn’s origin, one author put it this way: “An obscure woman scribbles a poem on the flyleaf of her hymnal, an amateur church musician unknowingly creates a matching tune, an unknown pastor provides encouragement, and another hymn is born.”

Written in 1865, this hymn about the total sufficiency of Christ’s atoning work on the cross was not a solitary affair, but a fruit of His church. Partially inspired by William Bradbury’s hymn by the same name, this version was written by Elvina M. Hall, while she sat listening to a sermon from the choir loft of Monument Street Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. She jotted the lyrics on the inside of her hymnal and shared them with her pastor after the service.

Nothing might have become of those lyrics had John T. Grape not also attended Hall’s church.

Thirty years earlier, Grape served as organist and choir director, during which time he composed a tune titled “All to Christ I Owe.” After hearing the music, the pastor was reportedly “unimpressed,” and set it aside. Thankfully, that same pastor recalled Grape’s tune as he read Hall’s words some three decades later. He believed they would make a great match, and history has proven him right.

The story of “Jesus Paid It All” is a marvelous exhibit of God assembling various talents over time to orchestrate something beautiful and powerful: a song of our complete redemption.

Jesus Paid It All
by Elvina M. Hall

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.

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

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 when, before the throne,
I stand in Him complete,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
My lips shall still repeat.


Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, mom, and she holds a PhD on women and calling. She is a regular contributor to Propel, blogs at SheWorships.com, and her first book releases in October 2017.


Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2012.

Petersen, William J., and Ardythe Petersen. The Complete Book of Hymns: Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2006.

  • The history section says that in 1865, John Grape had written the tune 30 years earlier. But the notes also say he was born in 1835. That would mean that he was “an organist and a choir director” as an infant. I did my own research and the sources say that he had written the tune recently, which is no less miraculous, but also seems far more likely. Unfortunately, I feel less confident in the background info provided, but I still love the hymns and the related Scriptures!

  • Atalie Jones

    “Lord, now indeed I find
    They pow’r and thine alone
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.”
    Thank You, Lord, for Your great power that can heal disease and make even the hardest of hearts soften. Soften my heart today in areas where I am disobedient to You. Make me aware of my sins and draw me to repentance. Make me a new creation. Flood my soul with Your Holy Spirit. Please do not leave me nor forsake me.

  • Can you imagine the possibility of how hurt Elvina Hall could’ve become after her pastors lack of interest? Reminds us to wait upon the Lord, for He has good things in store. Just love this hymn.

  • Samantha Hawthorne

    So inspiring to my situation and such a reminder that HE is in control today.

  • I love this hymn series!

  • Kaitlyn Johnson

    A wonderful and much needed reminder that God is constantly orchestrating something beautiful and wonderful every second of every day. We may not know what or how at this time, but it is happening in each of our lives! Love this hymn’s message, tune, and backstory.

  • Ashley BB

    Hearing the story of how this hymn came to be reminds me of what a wonderfully creative God we serve. He gives us the tools and inspiration to worship and glorify Him. An obscure woman scribbling words…. An amateur musician composing a tune…. 30 years separating them. God doesn’t need the most gifted and talented individuals, He needs open and humble hearts that seek to worship and honor Him. My passions and giftings don’t match up (worship leader husband, heart for worship, can’t sing a tune or play an instrument) and maybe that’s ok. Maybe I don’t need to be a singer or a musician to offer exceptional worship to the Lord. Maybe all I need is a pen, the flyleaf of a hymnal and an open and willing heart.

    Thank you Lord Jesus for paying it all and for providing the words and means to worship and glorify you.

  • Child of weakness, watch and pray. Find me in all things… so much of the Bible/New Testament is about being saved. Let go – you are saved! Surrender – you are saved! No, you can’t control everything but it is no matter because you are saved! You are not perfect and may succumb sometimes – but you are saved! Not only that, God will work double time to make good out of our weakness. Lean into grace and trust! You are saved!

    Easy to say and yet so easy to forget to practice. How many times have I tried to be perfect and then beat myself up when I fail? How many times have I tried to control things? How many times have I turned to “expert” advice instead of God. How many times have I tried to save myself? And the whole time God is saying: CHILL. I know you’re not perfect. I designed you that way. Now watch and pray and find me in ALL things! And btw, did I mention, you’re already saved?

  • Pascale

    Got a rendition of this hymn that speaks to its power even over a century and a half later. Enjoy!

  • Thankful for today’s reminder of His strength and the promise of being complete in Him someday. I’ve shared about my mom a few times and once again ask for prayers for her, myself, and my family as she has a week or two left. Our family is close and all local so we are blessed to spend time with her as she nears the comfort, wholeness, and health she will soon receive as a saint in heaven.

    • churchmouse

      Praying His powerful comforting presence for all of you

    • Karen From Virginia

      Praying for God’s comfort as you walk through this season. It’s not easy but I pray Just I am doing out with the loss of my sister, that you will find your God bigger and stronger. I pray you lean into him as he loves you and gives you wisdom for each day.

  • “Lord, now indeed I find thy power and thine alone, can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone.” My brother walked away from the Lord many years ago. Recently my dad asked what more he could have done to raise us to stay close to Jesus. This hymn reminds me that it is Jesus alone who melts the heart of stone and calls them back home. Watching and praying for my brother to come up the road like the prodigal, and run to Jesus all the way home.

    • Lindsay Prater

      Amen. As another hymn says, “In Christ alone my hope is found.”

    • Leenda324

      Thank you for this.

    • Melea Hames

      Amber, don’t stop praying for your brother. I prayed for years and years for my brother, and he came to know Him about a year before he passed away. Our last conversation was about how he desired to be discipled and share his story to help others. God is faithful. ❤️

      • Kylee

        Thank YOU Melea for sharing this! Tucking it close to my heart as I pray for my brother to find his way back to God.

    • Megan

      Amber, I’d like to share a story in the hopes that it will encourage you. :-) My sister was the prodigal in our family, and she recently posted this to Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2033771776649031&id=100000486863768

      As I was watching it, I kept thinking about how I didn’t see those thoughts and feelings in her at the time. I saw defiance and anger. She seemed to be happy with what was happening in her life. But it turns out that underneath, she wasn’t happy at all.

      Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who draws, Jesus who saves, and each individual soul that must choose to submit. That said, I believe the solid foundation my parents gave us and the consistent prayers sent up on her behalf had an impact too. Keep praying for your brother, and remember that the Holy Spirit is probably working in ways you don’t see! ♡

      • Becky

        Thank you Megan. The video is beautiful, and I am still praying for my brother. HS draws, Jesus saves, and the individual heart needs to choose. Thanks for your words.

  • Tochi Heredia

    Ransom. Revelation. Power. Sealed. Guaranteed. Salvation. Faith. Hope.

    Those words stood out to me from today’s readings. I just love that Jesus assured all of that for us through his sacrifice. We can’t do anything to keep it and there’s nothing we can do to lose it, because we never the ones who purchased it. It’s not as if it’s just a loan and we have to give them back at one point. Nope, it is finished, the bill paid in full.

    I really needed to hear this today. Last night I was overcome by very dark thoughts and I felt so inadequate, so alone. But I’m never alone and He has made me adequate. He is the founder and the finisher of my faith, I can rest in that hope assured and my the relationship with the Father guaranteed and sealed by His blood.
    Praise the One who paid my debt!

  • Finally! A hymn I know and I absolutely love this one. One of my favorites!

    • Kristi

      I must have grown up in a pretty traditional church because I’ve known all the hymns they’ve posted about so far. Haha. I love contemporary Christian music, but I love old hymns too. Really enjoying this study!

  • Jesus paid it all. And because He paid it All…”when I am weak, then I am strong”…His grace is sufficient…I have been “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”…I have been redeemed from my empty way of life with the precious blood of Christ…I have faith and hope in God…one day I will “stand in Him complete.” All of this because “JESUS PAID IT ALL”. What more could I ever want?
    Have a blessed day, sisters.

  • I drive on Monument St. in Baltimore every day to get to work. I’m not sure if this church is still around, but how great to know that one of my favorite hymns was composed so nearby…I had no idea! Very cool to see that some of the most impactful things can come from some of the least likely places. Praise the Lord!

    • Kellie

      Lauren–I agree!! I live in Washington, DC and drive through Baltimore often for work. How awesome to know such an influential hymn and one of my favorites was penned right up the road from me :)

  • candacejo

    Loved this song for many years. Thankful young people are picking it up and keeping it alive! Love the bridge in this version by Kristian Stanfill.
    Oh, praise the One who paid my debt!
    And raised this life up from the dead!

    • Sarah

      Yes! I love how the current artists are continuing the songs of long ago. The bridge is a perfect “update” to make it feel fresh. It’s truly a Living Bible providing the foundation.

    • Lindsay Prater

      Yes, I love this version, also! I remember singing it as loud as I could on a stage with several other students. We were in a tiny chapel at Moody Bible Institute, all gathered together for some “extra” time with God in prayer and song. What a treasured memory I shall never forget♥

  • churchmouse

    “Child of weakness, watch and pray, find in Me thine all in all.” Yes. Amen.

  • I’ll be honest, I had quite a rough day today. Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful to God when the worst things occur. Yet, I’m breathing and experiencing this wonderful world, and I should be more gracious for the little things. Everyone has good days and bad days, and no matter what the Lord is by my side.

  • Indeed I do….

    All to Him I owe…

    Everything… and if that wasn’t enough this side of Eternity… when my sin is as crimson as… I have entry to Eternity when I am called home…
    Jesus have it ALL that I might live here on earth, but that the ultimate is that my place is secure in the heavenlies because of His great gift for this unworthy sinner!
    Funny, or is there something in it….
    Sin has left a crimson stain, yet, Jesus washed it white as snow…. absolutely cleansed and continues to cleanse each day…
    Yet to give ourselves to follow, believe, trust, to rid ourselves of negativity, hope in Him, we cover ourselves in His red/ crimson blood..to be washed clean..
    Two varieties of red, and yet one is drowning… the other saving, redeeming, hope-filled, gracious, faithful… protecting, loving…

    Thank you Jesus for the price you paid for me/ us, our families, our loved ones… Thank you for everything Lord Jesus.. Thank you..
    Praying your day is blessed, Sisters, knowing nothing can top the price He has paid for our freedom, our lives…
    Lets live our lives accordingly … in love and gratitude with thankful hearts… for there is no other that will come close to doing this for us than the blood of Jesus.. .Amen…
    Hugs and love dear hearts…xxx

    • Dana


    • Emily B.

      I love the comparison between the two types of blood. How awesome that we’re covered by Jesus’ blood and therefore clean. Praise the Lord!

    • Megan

      Tina, this is a video my sister made. I shared it below in response to Amber, but I thought I would share it with you as well, because it makes me think you! Your mantra – at 1:48! ;-D https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2033771776649031&id=100000486863768

      • truthseeker

        This.Was.So.Very. Moving. Thank you so much for sharing this.
        May I share it with other?
        This is such a powerful video, your sisters voice is so lovely. This needs to go viral.
        It could help so many people with their self condemnation and feelings of unworthiness and low self esteem
        Thank your sister for me – her video is awesome.

        • Megan

          Absolutely, you may share! She made it public from the beginning and clearly hoped it would be encouraging to others, which is why I didn’t hesitate to share. :-) Please do!

Further Reading...