I was interested to find some extra verses in the hymnbook that we don't normally sing today. The hymn is shown below, with the extra verses in italics:
1. Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth 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 barb’rous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.
4. For Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.
5. 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 wherever 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 honours to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!
I would imagine these verses have been dropped because they appear to speak of empire in a way that some might think reflects old British Empire (especially verse 3), and it is a little antiquated to speak of "barbarous" nations. But still the truth remains - Europe shall bring to Him their tribute. Persia (modern day Iran!) shall submit and bow, as will India, and the other nations. I am stirred by the faith of men like Isaac Watts who penned these words, and then by the missionaries who went out in full faith that the scripture behind these words would be fulfilled. Psalm 2v10-11 says "Now therefore, be wise, O kings, be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling." God's King has been installed and He shall reign!
The theme of this great hymn is given a modern flavour by Lex Loizides:
Be still and know that I am God;
My Son has asked Me for the nations of the world.
His sprinkled blood has made a way
For all the multitudes of India and Africa to come;
The Middle East will find its peace
Through Jesus Christ My Son.
From London down to Cape Town,
From L.A to Beijing,
My Son shall reign the undisputed King!
(Lex Loizedes (c) 1996 Kingsway Thankyou Music)
Amen! God stir our faith to believe this, to pray for it, to preach for it, to give for it.
And our great motivation is the great blessing we have in Him - "In Him the tribes of Adam boast, More blessings than their father lost."
Yet there is more. Cyberhymnal gives even more verses of Watts' hymn, and I will leave these to speak for themselves!
Great God, whose universal sway
The known and unknown worlds obey,
Now give the kingdom to Thy Son,
Extend His power, exalt His throne.
The scepter well becomes His hands;
All Heav’n submits to His commands;
His justice shall avenge the poor,
And pride and rage prevail no more.
With power He vindicates the just,
And treads th’oppressor in the dust:
His worship and His fear shall last
Till hours, and years, and time be past.
As rain on meadows newly mown,
So shall He send his influence down:
His grace on fainting souls distills,
Like heav’nly dew on thirsty hills.
The heathen lands, that lie beneath
The shades of overspreading death,
Revive at His first dawning light;
And deserts blossom at the sight.
The saints shall flourish in His days,
Dressed in the robes of joy and praise;
Peace, like a river, from His throne
Shall flow to nations yet unknown.