Words: Isaac Watts, The Psalms of David 1719.
Christ’s kingdom among the Gentiles.
Perhaps one of the most interesting occasions on which this hymn was used was that on which King George, the sable, of the South Sea Islands, but of blessed memory, gave a new constitution to his people, exchanging a heathen for a Christian form of government.
Under the spreading branches of the banyan trees sat some thousand natives from Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa, on Whitsunday, 1862, assembled for Divine worship.
Foremost amongst them all sat King George himself. Around him were seated old chiefs and warriors who had shared with him the dangers and fortunes of many a battle—men whose eyes were dim, and whose powerful frames were bowed down with the weight of years.
But old and young alike rejoiced together in the joys of that day, their faces most of them radiant with Christian joy, love, and hope.
It would be impossible to describe the deep feeling manifested when the solemn service began, by the entire audience singing Dr. Watts’ hymn…
Who so much as they could realize the full meaning of the poet’s words? For they had been rescued from the darkness of heathenism and cannibalism and they were that day met for the first time under a Christian constitution, under a Christian king, and with Christ Himself reigning in the hearts of most of those present.
That was indeed Christ’s kingdom set up in the earth.
Stevenson, pp. 351–52
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.
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.
There Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold;
And barbarous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.
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 prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blest.
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.
Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our king;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen.