Jesus Shall Reign Wherever the Sun

By Isaac Watts

Duke Street John Hatton
Truro Lowell Mason
Warrington Ralph Harrison
Missionary Chant Heinrich Zuener
Rimington Francis Duckworth
  1. Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
    does his successive journeys run;
    his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
    till moons shall wax and wane no more.

    2. Behold the islands with their kings,
    And Europe her best tribute brings;
    From north to south the princes meet,
    To pay their homage at His feet.

    3. There Persia, glorious to behold,
    There India shines in eastern gold;
    And barbarous nations at His word
    Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.

    4. 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.

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

    6. Blessings abound where’er he reigns;
    the prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
    the weary find eternal rest,
    and all the sons of want are blessed.

    7. Where He displays His healing power,
    Death and the curse are known no more:
    In Him the tribes of Adam boast
    More blessings than their father lost.

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

This is another of Isaac Watts’ Psalm recastings. You cannot really call it a paraphrase or a strictly versification of Psalm 72 because Watts goes far beyond anything found within the Psalm. You see this with the first word: “Jesus.” This name appears nowhere in the OT and certainly not within this Psalm. Yet, Watts felt free to view the OT and the Psalms in particular, through a Christological frame. Psalm 72 was originally a prayer from King David for his son Solomon. Watts sees Solomon as a prefigure of Jesus Christ, so he feels free to make that reference at the very beginning of his text.

In all modern hymnals stanzas 2, 3, and 7 are omitted. During Isaacs’ life, the British empire was still in its early stages. Yet, through the following decades I am sure English singers couldn’t help but make a connection with their rapidly growing empire and these verses. Watts modernizes verse ten of the Psalm. The locations of Europe, Persia, and India are modern substitutes for Tarshish, Sheba, and Seba. Ironically, this has been a very popular hymn in missionary settings and is sung wherever the English language, largely from British colonization, is spoken.

Psalm 72

Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.

May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
May he endurea]”>[a] as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.

May he rule from sea to sea
and from the Riverb]”>[b] to the ends of the earth.
May the desert tribes bow before him
and his enemies lick the dust.
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores
bring tribute to him.
May the kings of Sheba and Seba
present him gifts.
11 May all kings bow down to him
and all nations serve him.

12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live!
May gold from Sheba be given him.
May people ever pray for him
and bless him all day long.
16 May grain abound throughout the land;
on the tops of the hills may it sway.
May the crops flourish like Lebanon
and thrivec]”>[c] like the grass of the field.
17 May his name endure forever;
may it continue as long as the sun.

Then all nations will be blessed through him,d]”>[d]
and they will call him blessed.

18 Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.
19 Praise be to his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and Amen.

20 This concludes the prayers of David, son of Jesse.

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Here are some of my favorite Hymnals:

Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook:

Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: 

Broadman 1940 Hymnal:

Methodist 1939 Hymnal:

Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal:

Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin:

Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945

Book of Psalms for Singing    (1912 Psalter is unavailable)

Here are my new projects:

Hymns Ancient and Modern

J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales


Dictionary of Hymnology:

American Hymns Old and New