Jesus Shall Reign by Isaac Watts, 1719. Chorus by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Ed Cash, 2017
1. Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
does its successive journeys run,
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.
2. Blessings abound where’er he reigns:
the prisoners leap to lose their chains,
the weary find eternal rest,
and all who suffer want are blest.
Observe: Verse 1 says Jesus reigns everywhere the sun travels. Verse 2 tells us that blessings abound where he reigns. Therefore his blessings are to be found everywhere. His blessings are not just material things, but the deeper eternal blessings of freedom from the slavery of sin, true and lasting rest for our weary hearts and minds, and all we truly need in this life. When we recognize that we experience these things, even now, we sing this chorus.
To our King be highest praise
Rising through eternal days
Just and faithful He shall reign:
Jesus shall reign!
Our central problem since Adam sinned is alienation from God and each other. This alienation is the root of racial strife and the social and economic injustice in our world. It must not be so in the church. Paul writes that Jesus, has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, (reconciling) us (all) to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14–16, ESV). Jesus’ solution to this age-old problem is the focus of verse 3.
3. People and realms of every tongue
dwell on his love with sweetest song,
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on his name.
Our reasonable response is to join with all creation in anticipation of Christ’s return and the final and eternal redemption of all creatures and the creation.
4. Let every creature rise and bring
the highest honors to our King,
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud amen.
The updated song omits Watts’ verse 2, which is a bit unfortunate because it is a fitting conclusion to the song. Watts writes,
To him shall endless prayer be made,
and praises throng to crown his head.
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
with every morning sacrifice.
May your prayers and praises be enlivened this morning and throughout the day by knowing they crown the head of the eternal Son and rise as sweet incense to perfume the throne room of our gracious and glorious God.
Blessings, Pastor Don.