“Rejoice, the Lord Is King”

"But we see Jesus…crowned with glory and honor" (Heb. 2.9)

     INTRO.: A hymn which expresses great joy because Jesus has been crowned with glory and honor is "Rejoice, The Lord Is King" (#593 in Hymns for Worship). The text was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788).  It first appeared in his 1746 Hymns for Our Lord’s Resurrection, though some sources give the 1744 Moral and Sacred Poems of John Wesley as its initial publication as a poem and then in Charles’s collection as a hymn to be sung. The tune (Darwall or Darwall’s 148th) most commonly used with it was composed by John Darwall, who was born around Jan. 13, 1731, at Haughton in Staffordshire, England. After attending Manchester Grammar School, he entered Brasenose College at Oxford University at age fourteen. Following his graduation in 1756, he became an Anglican minister the next year and began work at St. Matthew’s Church in Walsall, West Midlands, England, where he remained the rest of his life. An accomplished amateur musician who penned two volumes of sonatas for the piano, he provided tunes for all 150 Psalms in the New Version of the Psalter begun by Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady. These were originally in three manuscript volumes, and some of them were later published in various psalters.

     This particular one, used with the 148th Psalm which began "Ye boundless realms of joy," first appeared in The New Universal Psalmist, fifth edition, of 1770, compiled by Aaron Williams (1731-1776). Some think that it was produced for and first sung at a special service of the church in Walsall. It is the only one of Darwall’s melodies in common use today. In Darwall’s original, it was in the key of D major and the initial note was A. The change of the initial note to D and some other alterations were made in 1778 by Williams when he arranged the tune for his Psalmody in Miniature. Darwall also authored hymns and poetry, some of which he contributed to the Gentleman’s Magazine, and he died at Walsall on Dec. 18, 1789.   Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the tune was used with another text in the 1925 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) edited by E. L. Jorgenson; Wesley’s song with Darwall’s melody appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it is found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; the 1992 Praise for the Lord (the same text is also used with another tune) edited by John P. Wiegand; and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise edited by Alton H. Howard; as well as Hymns for Worship.

     The hymn exhorts us to rejoice at the fact that Jesus is our King.

I. From stanza 1, we learn that Jesus Christ is our King
"Rejoice, the Lord is King: Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing, And triumph evermore."
 A. The Lord is King, as Jesus Himself declared the purpose of His coming: Jn. 18.36-37
 B. As our King, He is worthy of all adoration and worship, as the Wise Men understood: Matt. 2.11
 C. Thus we should rejoice in truth of Jesus’s kingship as proclaimed by Peter on Pentecost: Acts 2.29-36

II. From stanza 2, we learn that Jesus Christ began His reign when He went above
"Jesus the Savior reigns, The God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above."
 A. As our King, Jesus the Savior reigns having been seated above all principality as the head of the Church after He rose from the dead: Eph. 1.19-23
 B. He is not a created being or even an angel but the God of truth and love: 1 Tim. 3.16
 C. The reason that He is qualified to reign is that He purged our sins: Heb. 1.1-3

III. From stanza 3, we learn that Jesus Christ has a kingdom which cannot fail
"His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o’er earth and heaven;
The keys of death and hell Are to our Jesus given."
 A. The kingdom over which He reigns cannot fail because it was prophesied that God would establish a kingdom that cannot be destroyed: Dan. 2.44-45
 B. Because He rules in this kingdom, He has all authority both in heaven and on earth: Matt. 28.18
 C. Therefore, even the keys of death and Hades have been given to Him: Rev. 1.17-18

IV. From stanza 4, we learn that Jesus Christ sits at God’s right hand
"He sits at God’s right hand Till all His foes submit,
And bow to His command, And fall beneath His feet."
 A. When Jesus received His kingdom, He sat down at God’s right hand where He now reigns: Heb. 8.1
 B. He will continue to sit at God’s right hand and reign until all His foes submit: 1 Cor. 15.25
 C. God’s desire is that all will bow to His command and fall beneath His feet: Phil. 2.9-11

V. From stanza 5, we learn that Jesus Christ will conquer all His foes
"He all His foes shall quell, Shall all our sins destroy,
And every bosom swell With pure seraphic joy."
 A. As the one who sits at God’s right hand, He will ultimately be victorious over all His foes: Heb. 10.12-13
 B. One of His chief purposes in coming to earth was to destroy the works of the devil, including our sins: 1 Jn. 3.8
 C. Therefore, the bosom of every person redeemed by His blood can swell with joy: Phil. 4.4

VI. From stanza 6, we learn that Jesus Christ is also our Judge who will come and take us home
"Rejoice in glorious hope! Our Lord the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up To their eternal home."
 A. Because He will conquer His foes, He gives us hope: Col. 1.27
 B. We look forward to His coming as our Judge: Matt. 25.31-33
 C. When this happens, He will take us up to our eternal home: 1 Thess. 4.16-17

CONCL.: Each stanza concludes with the joyful admonition:
"Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!"
The combination of words and music has an exuberance about it that is hard to resist, and I for one am glad that this hymn has found its way into more of our recent hymnbooks. The joy and confidence of the Christian growing out of the reign of Christ is the theme of this great song as it tells us to "Rejoice, the Lord Is King."


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