Isaac Watts was a prolific hymn writer who is credited with writing over 600 hymns during his lifetime. Many of them are still used today to worship and praise the same Savior Watts loved and served. Born on July 27, 1674 at Southampton, England, he was the eldest of nine children. His father was a Dissenter from the Anglican Church and on at least one occasion was thrown in jail for not following the Church of England. Isaac followed his father's strongly biblical faith. He was a very intelligent child who loved books and learned to read early. He began learning Latin at age four and went on to learn Greek, Hebrew, and French as well. His hymn that we feature this week was written in 1719 and is said to be his paraphrase of Psalm 72. Once again, I have found no background on the actual writing of the hymn. However, "Jesus Shall Reign Where're the Sun" is considered by many to be the first great missionary hymn. It was written at a time when the church was doing little missionary work. Watts envisioned a day when Jesus would reign throughout the world - wherever the sun shines - from shore to shore. His original verses envisioned a time when all people - princes, savage tribes, people of all languages, even infants - would praise Jesus' name. Current hymnals have modernized the language somewhat and generally reduced the original 14 verses to five. Since the days of Watts, the Gospel has spread throughout the world and believers can be found almost everywhere, despite the fact that many must worship in secret for fear of persecution or even death. But there still are tribes and people groups who need to be reached with the good news. May we be active in spreading this message to all, whether it be by actually going ourselves or by supporting, with our money and prayers, those who are going. May we do our part to help see "the prisoner leap to lose his chains and the weary find eternal rest", as we have hopefully experienced ourselves. And there will be a time when people from every nation gather to worship, praise and bring honor to our King. Now I must conclude this blog with an interesting story about Isaac Watts. It is said that he was not much to look at. He was frail and often sickly. His head seemed too large for his short five foot body. His small, piercing eyes and hooked nose did not enhance his appearance. A lady once fell in love with Isaac by reading his poetry and a correspondence between them followed. When she met him face to face, however, she was very disillusioned, even though he fell in love with her. He asked her to marry him, but her reply was, "Mr. Watts, I only wish I could admire the casket (jewelry box) as much as I admire the jewel." Watts never married, though the two remained good friends for over 30 years.
(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) 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.
(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.
(4) 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.
(5) Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!
You can listen to this hymn here. LISTEN