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Jesus Shall Reign (Psalm 72)

Full Text

1 Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
does its 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 where'er he reigns:
the prisoners leap to lose their chains,
the weary find eternal rest,
and all who suffer want are blest.

5 Let every creature rise and bring
the highest honors to our King,
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud amen.

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Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Watts' text is a strong Christological interpretation of Psalm 72. We sing of the worldwide reign of Christ (st. 1), who is praised by all creatures (st. 2 and 5) , and whose rule results in blessings on people "of every tongue" (st. 3) and redemption for the outcasts (st. 4). The text has a strong missionary focus.  


Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The confessions make it clear that the ascension of Christ opened the door to the rule of his kingdom. This fact is comforting to those who love him and is a fearful threat to those who despise him. The response therefore is praise and adoration from people of faith, and resistance from those who reject him.


Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 27 affirms “All authority, glory and sovereign power are given to him,” and reaffirms it in paragraph 43: “Jesus Christ rules over all.”


Consider the clear affirmation made in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 19, Question and Answer 50: “Christ ascended to heaven to show there that he is the head of his church, the one through whom the Father rules all things.”

It is no wonder that those who despise him join together to conspire against him, for Christ’s aim as Lord is to “destroy the devil’s work…every force which revolts against you and every conspiracy against your holy word” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 48, Question and Answer 123).


Jesus Shall Reign (Psalm 72)

Introductory/Framing Text

We stand beneath the cross of Jesus,
and we see there his dying form.
Witnessing his suffering and his great love for us
compels us to come before him in prayer.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Call to Worship

Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!
—Revelation 5:12, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

The Lord who calls us to worship today is the same Jesus
who refused the temptation to worship the evil one.
Rather than receive the glorious kingdoms of this world,
he endured the shame of the cross,
and today is Lord of lords and King of kings.
Now are gathered in him
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
glory and power.
With the saints of all ages we say,
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom
and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
—based on Colossians 2:3; Revelation 5:12, NIV
[Reformed Worship 27:40]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Almighty God,
as we prepare to worship today,
we ask that you will stretch our imaginations
to sense the majesty and mystery of your ascension.
Help us perceive how Jesus’ presence in heaven
can give us confidence in our praying
and hope for the future.
Through Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord ?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord , strong and mighty,
the Lord , mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory.
—Psalm 24, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!
Then every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth
and on the sea, and all that is in them, sang,
“To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power
for ever and ever!” Amen.
—from Revelation 5:12-13, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
—Psalm 47:5-8, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Jesus ascended in triumph,
raising our humanity to the heavenly throne.
All authority, glory, and sovereign power are given to him.
There he hears our prayers and pleads our cause before the Father.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Come, let us worship and bow down.
—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 27
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Jesus Christ has come into heaven and is at God’s right hand—
with angels, authorities, and powers in submission to him.
Since we have a great high priest who has gone into heaven—
Jesus, the Son of God—let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Let us praise his holy name!
Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!
Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power, and strength
be to our God forevermore!
Alleluia, Amen!
—based on Hebrews 4:14; Revelation 5:10, 12
[Reformed Worship 23:41]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Lord God,
the words “Jesus is King” come easily to our lips,
yet we often fail to grasp the significance of what they mean for us.
In this service, help us worship you in spirit and truth,
and give us a vision for how we may live in homage to you
every day of our lives, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
—Psalm 24:7-8, 10, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


Our hope for a new creation
is not tied to what humans can do,
for we believe that one day
every challenge to God’s rule
will be crushed.
His kingdom will fully come,
and the Lord will rule.
We long for that day
when our bodies are raised,
the Lord wipes away our tears,
and we dwell forever
in the presence of God.
We will take our place
in the new creation,
where there will be
no more death
or mourning
or crying
or pain,
and the Lord will be our light.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 55-56
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Our ascended Lord gives hope for two ages.
In the age to come, Christ is the judge,
rejecting unrighteousness,
isolating God’s enemies to hell,
blessing the new creation in Christ.
In this age, the Holy Spirit is with us,
calling nations to follow God’s path,
uniting people through Christ in love.
—from Our Song of Hope, st. 5
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Jesus Christ has been ordained by God the Father
and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit
to be our chief prophet and teacher
who fully reveals to us
the secret counsel and will of God concerning our deliverance;
our only high priest
who has delivered us by the one sacrifice of his body,
and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;
and our eternal king
who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.
He ascended to heaven
to show there that he is head of his church,
the one through whom the Father rules all things.
In all distress and persecution,
with uplifted head,
we confidently await the very judge
who has already offered himself to the judgment of God
in our place and removed the whole curse from us.
Christ will cast all his enemies and ours
into everlasting condemnation,
but will take all his chosen ones to himself
into the joy and glory of heaven.
—from Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A’s 31, 50, 52
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

As followers of Jesus Christ,
living in this world—
which some seek to control,
and others view with despair—
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!
From the beginning,
through all the crises of our times,
until the kingdom fully comes,
God keeps covenant forever:
Our world belongs to God!
God is King! Let the earth be glad!
Christ is victor: his rule has begun!
The Spirit is at work: creation is renewed!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
Jesus ascended in triumph,
raising our humanity to the heavenly throne.
All authority, glory, and sovereign power are given to him.
There he hears our prayers
and pleads our cause before the Father.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Our hope for a new creation is not tied
to what humans can do,
for we believe that one day
every challenge to God’s rule will be crushed.
His kingdom will fully come,
and our Lord will rule.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Our World Belongs to God, st. 1-2, 27, 55
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


People of God, go now in peace, knowing that
if we suffer with Christ, we shall also rejoice with him;
if we die with Christ, we shall also rise with him.
Go in peace, letting your old self die with Christ,
and your new self, glorious with purpose and strength,
prepare for the great day of our ascended Lord’s return.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you before his glorious presence
without fault and with great joy—
to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
—Jude 24-25, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

In the presence of God, who gives life to all things,
and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony
before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,
I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame
until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which he will bring about at the right time—
he who is the blessed and only Sovereign,
the King of kings and Lord of lords.
It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light,
whom no one has ever seen or can see;
to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
—1 Timothy 6:13-16, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

God of every nation, your law is right, your rule is just,
and even in this fallen world your kingdom knows no boundaries.
May the compassion, patience, and forgiveness you show us in Jesus Christ our Savior
form the ministry of reconciliation we offer to all people in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (

O God of all power and majesty,
you created the heavens and stretched them out.
You formed the earth and all that comes from it.
You give the breath of life to all who walk on the face of the earth.
Jesus, you conquered sin and death and now reign victorious.
You are Lord; glory is due your name.
The former things have come to pass;
we now await the new things you will bring through the Holy Spirit.
We rejoice to be gathered in your name.
Alleluia! Accept our praises and petitions. Amen.
[Reformed Worship 39:28]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Ascended Lord, we praise you.
In your death you utterly wiped out the damning evidence
of broken laws and commandments that always hung over our heads.
You completely annulled it by nailing it over your head on the cross.
In your resurrection you gave us new life, free life, full of new possibilities.
In your ascension you paraded sin and death behind you
in your triumphal procession.
You are our guarantee of victory.
You are our guarantee because you went through everything
we struggle with and triumphed over all evil.
What you did, you promised to help us do.
You will always be with us—not merely with sympathy but also with power.
You are our guarantee because it is truly “one of us”
who now governs as ruler of time and space.
This too gives us confidence and courage for the future.
You are our guarantee because, in going away,
you released the Spirit on us.
You are not distant from us but closer to us than ever before.
The current of the Spirit works over and through us endlessly.
It seeps and trickles into all the depths of heart and mind and will
so that truly we are like trees planted by water.
We bear fruit in season, our leaves do not wither,
and all that we do turns out well.
We bring our hopes, our needs, our desires to you.
We are confident of access because you are “one of us.”
We are confident of answers because you are the ruler of the universe.
Yours is the name above every other name,
the name before which every knee bows and every tongue confesses,
“You are Lord,” to the glory of God.
Hear our prayers and accept our praises.
May they rise like sweet-smelling incense before you
from lives that are like altars set ablaze by the fire of the Spirit. Amen.
—based on Psalm 1:3; Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:12-15; Philippians 2:10-11
[Reformed Worship 15:34]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Ascended Lord Jesus, help us to turn our thoughts toward you. We confess to
you this Ascension Day that we so often fail to take you into account. Sometimes
we do not set our minds upon you because of sheer laziness—it’s easier just to go
with society’s flow. Sometimes we do not take you into account because of simple
inattention—we just forget to look for ways in which we could serve your gospel
in a given situation. At other times we have not turned toward you because we have
actively and willfully decided to turn away from you.
When and where we fail to be transparent to your cosmic lordship, please
forgive us. By your Spirit of Pentecost, sent to us precisely because you are reigning
on high, help us to see this world the way you see it. From your exalted throne you
are able to see us and this world and its many hurting people clearly and well. Help
us to open our own eyes. Grant us vision and insight to view the people around us
through the lens of your own compassion.
Sometimes, O God, we conceive of your lordship as regal, powerful, and
perhaps a bit distant. We think your sovereign rule involves mostly quashing evil,
pursuing justice, and judging sin. Remind us by your Spirit that your lordship is
also about being close to people in need. Prod us to recall that in your kingdom,
rulership comes through servanthood and that the hands that uphold our world are
the pierced and tender hands of Jesus. Help us to remember (so that we may imitate
this ourselves) that you see not just evil that needs judging but also suffering that
needs ministry.
For you, O Lord, see the tears of the widowed, the sobs that overtake them when
the rest of us are not looking. You see the disorientation in which so many people
live every day—confusion borne of war, poverty, abuse, or chronic illness. You
see the people in dead-end jobs who trudge to work every day filled with so much
despair that they can hardly breathe. You see those who search a loved one’s eyes
for traces of love but find only an empty stare. As Lord of the earth, you spy every
instance of one person cutting another to the quick, every place where a child lives
in fear, every bar where someone tries to drown their sorrows.
Yet you are our world’s every hope. You are tender enough to weep with those
who weep and yet strong enough to lend comfort and not be consumed with the
sorrows that overwhelm us. You are discerning enough to see where our lives run
off the rails and yet gracious enough to forgive our foolishness and open again
the better path that leads into your kingdom. You are the bright center to all of
life, O God! Your lordship helps us glimpse our future with you in your kingdom,
even as it points the way home.
Make us into people of the ascension, Christ Jesus! Make us your hands of mercy,
your voice of grace, your presence of love. Whatever we do, whether in word
or deed; whatever we see, whether sinful or salacious; whatever we hear, whether
uplifting or depressing; whatever we face in this world, help us to face it in your
power and with the knowledge of your grace and goodness. Help us to be gentle
with prodigal children. Help us to be stalwart in the truth with people in love with
lies. Help us to be radiant with hope with people who fear death. Help us to be your
people, Lord God.
For today, as always, this world needs your shalom-filled presence. Bring peace
to war-torn places and help people everywhere to see in one another your image.
May those who delight in the paths of suicide and destruction be turned instead to
delight in life and in mutual flourishing. End the terror in which so many live, and
thwart the dreams of those who plot still more terror on the unsuspecting. Where
there is hunger, bring bread; where there is drought and thirst, send refreshing
rains; where there is hatred, bring your peace; where there is greed, bring your own
fullness and so turn appetites run amok away from short-term pleasures toward
things that last and that foster richness and plenty for all.
We are the people of your ascension and reign, Holy Christ of God. Whatever
we do, help us never to forget who we are, whose we are, and where true joy may
be found.
In the power and blessing of your name we pray. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Jesus Shall Reign (Psalm 72)

Tune Information

D Major


Musical Suggestion

The powerful and triumphant text of this hymn calls for majestic singing. Its tempo is most effective when felt as a deliberate two-beats-per-measure. Various groups of singers might be used to underscore the mood of each stanza: try having the whole congregation sing stanza 1, the women only on stanza 2, all the children on the third stanza, the men on stanza 4, and everyone joining on the fifth stanza with a free organ accompaniment or a trumpet descant, like the one included here by Geoffrey Shaw.
Resources for the tune DUKE STREET are not difficult to find, although they may be camouflaged by different titles ("I Know That My Redeemer Lives," "Fight the Good Fight," and "Give to God Immortal Praise"). Some very good free accompaniments include those by Eric Routley (25 Festive Hymns for Organ and Choir, Augsburg), G. Winston Cassler (Organ Descants for Selected Hymn Tunes, Augsburg), Gerre Hancock (Organ Improvisations for Hymn-Singing, Hinshaw), and Eric Thiman (Varied Harmonizations of Favorite Hymn Tunes, H.W. Gray).
A number of good organ preludes based on this tune may be found in Gerald Kemner's Fantasies on Nine Familiar Hymn Tunes (Augsburg), Wilbur Held's Preludes and Postludes Volume 1 (Augsburg), Interpretations Book III (David Cherwien/A.M.S.L), The Diane Bish Organ Book Volume 4 (Fred Bock Music Co.), and Jan Bender's 5 Festive Preludes on Easter Hymns (Concordia). Also notable is Charles Callahan's "Partita on Duke Street" (Concordia).
Choral settings of "Jesus Shall Reign" include hymn concertatos for choir, congregation, organ, and (in some cases) optional brass, written by David Cherwien (Summa), Hal Hopson (G.I.A.), and James Engel (Augsburg). Other concertatos are also available under the title "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" by Paul Bunjes (Concordia) and Theodore Beck (Morning Star). Although text changes would be required if these works were to be used, it would be worth the effort to promote congregational excitement about the celebration of Christ's ascension.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 26)
— Kenneth Bos

Jesus Shall Reign (Psalm 72)

Hymn Story/Background

Isaac Watts titles his Christological paraphrase of this portion of the messianic psalm “Christ’s Kingdom among the Gentiles” and gave his text a strong missionary focus. Isaac Watts based this hymn text on Psalm 72:12-19 and referred to verses 5 and 8 of the psalm as well. Originally in eight stanzas entitled "Christ's Kingdom among the Gentiles," the text was published in Watts' Psalms of David, Imitated (1719). The original stanzas 2, 3, and 7 are omitted, as is customary in modern hymnals.
First published anonymously in Henry Boyd's Select Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes (1793), DUKE STREET was credited to John Hatton  in William Dixon's Euphonia (1805). Virtually nothing is known about Hatton, its composer, other than that he lived on Duke Street in St. Helen's and that his funeral was conducted at the Presbyterian chapel there.
A sturdy and much loved tune, DUKE STREET has a generic resemblance to TRURO and to the African American gospel-style doxology, NEW DOXOLOGY (964). Sing stanzas 1 and 5 in unison; stanzas 2, 3, and 4 in harmony. The final stanza is a doxology that would be enhanced by a descant; it would also benefit from a stately tempo. Use strong and vigorous accompaniment with trumpets if possible. This tune is also known with the text “I Know That My Redeemer Lives!”
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Isaac Watts (b. Southampton, England, July 17, 1674; d. Bunfill Fields, England, November 25, 1748) was a precocious student and voracious reader. As a youth he studied Latin, Greek, French, and Hebrew. He declined an offer to study at Oxford and chose instead to attend an independent academy in Stoke Newington (1690-1694). From 1696 to 1701 Watts was tutor for the family of Sir John Hartopp, and in 1702 he became the pastor of Mark Lane Independent Chapel in London. However, ill health, which he had suffered for some years, took a serious turn in 1712. After that time he served the Mark Lane Chapel only on a part-time basis and moved in to the estate of Sir Thomas Abney to became the family chaplain, a position he held for the rest of his life. During the following thirty-six years Watts was a prolific author–writing books about theology, philosophy (including an influential textbook, Logic), and education, as well as con­ducting a voluminous correspondence.
Today, Watts is best remembered for his psalm paraphrases and hymns. Many of his contemporaries were exclusive psalm singers. After complaining about the poor quality of many of the psalm paraphrases, the teenager Watts was challenged by his father, "Give us something better!" So he began to write new psalm versifications in which he deliberately chose not to follow closely the King James text but instead to interpret the Old Testament psalms through contemporary British Christian and New Testament eyes.
The next step was to write hymns rather than Scripture paraphrases. What he called "hymns of human composure" established him as the creator of the modern English hymn; he is known as the "father of English hymnody." Altogether, Watts wrote more than six hundred psalm and hymn texts, which were published in his Horae Lyricae (1706), Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707), Divine Songs . . . for the Use of Children (1715), The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (1719), and Sermons and Hymns (1721-1727). Most of Watts' texts use the traditional British ballad meters (Short Meter, Common Meter, and Long Meter) and state their theme in often memorable first lines. His work became immensely popular in the English-speaking world, including the United States, where, following the American Revolution, Watts' texts were edited by Timothy Dwight in 1801 to remove their British connotations. Several of his versifications and hymns are still found in most hymnals; especially loved are the paraphrase of Psalm 90, "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," and the hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

John Warrington Hatton (b. Warrington, England, c. 1710; d, St. Helen's, Lancaster, England, 1793)was christened in Warrington, Lancashire, England. He supposedly lived on Duke Street in Lancashire, from where his famous tune name comes. Very little is known about Hatton, but he was most likely a Presbyterian, and the story goes that he was killed in a stagecoach accident.
— Bert Polman

Song Notes

In 2007, author Sally Loyd-Jones released the Jesus Storybook Bible. This book for children (but loved by adults, too) tells forty-four Bible stories from the Old and New Testament in such a way that each story points to Jesus. It teaches all who read it that the story of Jesus is really the story of the entire Bible.
While Loyd-Jones’ book captured the hearts of millions, her message is not a new one. In 1719, Isaac Watts published a hymnal entitled The Psalms of David, Imitated. In this hymnal, he paraphrased many of the Psalms, but in a very different style than many of his predecessors. The order of the day was to keep any paraphrase as close to the text as possible. Watts decided to do otherwise, and his interpretations of the psalms are quite loose, in an effort to write something new while keeping the spirit of the Psalm. His versification of Psalm 72 is no different. He interprets the psalm using a Christological lens. The king referenced in the psalm is Christ, and could be no one else. Watts, like Loyd-Jones, understood that the Old Testament makes sense in light of the New, and vice versa. There are many different stories in the Bible, but they are all part of the one great story.
— Laura de Jong
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