Singing through the Year: Jesus Shall Reign

“Jesus Shall Reign” is one of Isaac Watts’ many contributions to English-language hymnody. When Watts began writing hymn texts in the late 1600s, churches in England sang metrical psalms*, but not usually hymns (although people sang hymns for private devotion). Watts’ efforts were largely responsible for the acceptance of hymns into English churches—and into American ones as well.

*We’re also singing a metrical psalm on Sunday! 

Here is a solo piano version of “Jesus Shall Reign,” and here is an arrangement with choir and orchestra.

Jesus Shall Reign

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.

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.

People and realms of every tongue
dwell on his love with sweetest song,
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on his name.

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.

Let every creature rise and bring
the highest honors to our King,
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud amen.

Singing through the Year features a hymn related to next Sunday’s lectionary readings. Each hymn will be sung at the Presbyterian church where I am the organist.