"THE LORD JEHOVAH REIGNS"
"The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with majesty…" (Ps. 93.1)
INTRO.: A hymn which points out the need to be conscious of God as the sovereign ruler of the universe is "The Lord Jehovah Reigns." The text was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Thought by some to be a paraphrase of Ps. 148, it first appeared in Book II of his 1707 Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Several alterations have been made, especially in the third stanza, by an unknown hand. The song has been set to several tunes, including one (Darwall’s 148th) by John Darwall, and another (Millennium) taken from Henry Ward Beecher’s Plymouth Collection which is used in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann. The tune (Lennox or Trumpet) that was used in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater was composed by Lewis Edson Sr., who was born on Jan. 22, 1748, at Bridgewater, MA, into a musical family of the "Yankee tunesmith" tradition, and became a blacksmith by trade. After marrying in 1770, he moved moved his family to a sparsely settled section of western Massachusetts near Lanesboro and then to New York in 1776 because he was a Tory.
Following the American Revolution, Edson taught singing schools in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. This tune was first published, along with several others of his, in The Chorister’s Companion of 1782 or 1783 edited by Simeon Jocelyn and Amos Doolittle of New Haven, CN, probably with Charles Wesley’s hymn "Blow Ye the Trumpet, Blow!" In 1817 Edson moved to Mink Hollow near Woodstock, CN, where after a few years of mysterious seclusion he died in the spring of 1820. The tune was originally a "fuguing" tune, a type very popular in early New England that found its way to the South. The four part arrangement was probably made by Rigdon McCoy McIntosh (1836-1899). It first appeared in his 1876 book The Gem with another Wesley hymn, "Arise, My Soul, Arise." Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use among churches of Christ in the twentieth century, only the two previously mentioned ones have included it.
The song emphasizes that we should acknowledge Jehovah as the King.
I. Stanza 1 centers upon His majesty
"The Lord Jehovah reigns; His throne is built on high.
The garments He assumes Are light and majesty.
His glories shine with beams so bright,
No mortal eye can bear the sight."
A. Majesty is due one who reigns over the whole world: Ps. 96.10
B. Such majesty is symbolized by wearing a garment of light: Ps. 104.1-2
C. In fact, the Lord is clothed with such majesty that no mortal eye can bear the sight: Exo. 33.20, Jn. 1.18
II. Stanza 2 centers upon His justice
"The thunders of His hand Keep the wide world in awe;
His wrath and justice stand To guard His holy law.
And where His love resolves to bless,
His truth confirms and seals the grace."
A. His justice is symbolized by the thunders of His hand: Ps. 77.18
B. This justice is expressed by guarding His holy law with His wrath: Ps. 21.8-9
C. However, He is not only a God of wrath; He is also a God of love who blesses His people with graciousness: Ps. 103.8-18
III. Stanza 3 centers upon His wisdom
"Through all His mighty works Amazing wisdom shines,
Subdues the powers of hell, Confounds their dark designs.
Strong is His arm and shall fulfil His great decrees and sovereign will."
(The original third and fourth lines read:
"Confounds the powers of hell And breaks their cursed designs.")
A. His wisdom is demonstrated by all His might works: Ps. 145.5-7
B. These works subdue and confound those of evil: Ps. 40.13-15
C. Because of His wisdom, His strong arm shall fulfil His purposes: Ps. 2.4-9
IV. Stanza 4 centers upon His name
"And will this mighty King of glory condescend,
And will He write His name: My Father and my Friend?
I love His Name; I love His Word.
Join all my powers, and praise the Lord."
A. The Lord is called the King of glory who condescends to come in among us: Ps. 24.7-9
B. Therefore, He writes His name, that He is our Father and our Friend: Ps. 68.4-5
C. We should love His name because it is awesome and holy: Ps. 111.9
CONCL.: The psalms and hymns of Isaac Watts were wildly popular in their day. Many of his psalms, such as "The Lord My Shepherd Is" and "Joy to the World," and several of his hymns, such as "Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed" and "Come, Ye that Love the Lord" are still well known. Others are not as commonly used as they once were. However, I believe that some of them, such as this one, deserve more modern exposure because of their deep reverence and devotion in praising our God and reminding us, especially when we are experiencing difficulty or times are uncertain, that "The Lord Jehovah Reigns."