God Reigns! Earth Rejoices!

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Stanza 1 expresses the message of Psalms 96-100.

When stanza 1 speaks of the fact that ”God will dwell among us”, we  hear reference to Immanuel from Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:20-23.

Stanza 2 speaks of the day when “mountains will shake and worthless idols will fall”. See Matthew 24:26-31, Luke 21:20-28, and II Peter 3:10-13. 

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

“Former lamentations now are songs of peace,” stanza 3 of the song says. This hopeful joy in Christ’s coming is found in Our Song of Hope, stanza 1: “God is the world’s true Hope,” and therefore “we are a people of hope” (stanza 1), “Jesus Christ is the hope of God’s world” (stanza 4), and it even makes clear that “our ascended Lord gives hope for two ages”—in the age to come and in this age (stanza 5).


God Reigns! Earth Rejoices!

Introductory/Framing Text

O God, our God, awesome and righteous, sovereign of all,
we have seen your power, justice, and love revealed in your Son, our Redeemer.
In him we joyfully praise you this day and eagerly await the day that is yet to come
when all the earth will see your glory. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

Words of Praise

God of power and might,
in this bleak midwinter
we humbly offer our praise to you.
The coming of your Son
breaks our night
like the coming of the dawn.
This sun of righteousness
warms our faith
and stokes our hope
that one day your kingdom
will fully come in grace and truth. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

We declare to you what was from the beginning,
what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have looked at and touched with our hands,
concerning the word of life—
this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it,
and declare to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was revealed to us—
we declare to you what we have seen and heard
so that you also may have fellowship with us;
and truly our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
—1 John 1:1-4, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.
People of God, through the coming of Jesus Christ,
whose birth we celebrate,
the Lord has comforted and redeemed us too!
In Christ we receive the salvation of our God.
Glory to God in the highest!
—based on Isaiah 52:9-10; Luke 2:14, NRSV
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Go through, go through the gates,
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway,
clear it of stones,
lift up an ensign over the peoples.
The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth:
Say to daughter Zion, “See, your salvation comes;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
They shall be called, “The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the Lord”;
and you shall be called, “Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.”
People of God, in Jesus Christ you are a holy people,
the redeemed of the Lord.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!
—based on Isaiah 62:10-12, NRSV
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

When the goodness and loving kindness
of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness
that we had done, but according to his mercy,
through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that, having been justified by his grace,
we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
—Titus 3:4-7, NRSV
— 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!
Our world, fallen into sin,
has lost its first goodness,
but God has not abandoned the work of his hands:
our Maker preserves this world, sending seasons, sun, and rain,
upholding all creatures, renewing the earth,
promising a Savior, guiding all things to their purpose.
Remembering the promise to reconcile the world to himself,
God joined our humanity in Jesus Christ—
the eternal Word made flesh.
He is the long-awaited Messiah,
one with us and one with God,
fully human and fully divine,
conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
Being both divine and human,
Jesus is the only mediator.
He alone paid the debt of our sin;
there is no other Savior.
Jesus Christ rules over all.
To follow the Lord is
to serve him wherever we are,
without fitting in,
light in the darkness,
salt in a spoiling world.
—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 1, 4, 23, 26, 43
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


May Jesus Christ, the sun of righteousness,
who comes with healing in his wings,
fill you with the joy and peace that passes all understanding.
The blessing of God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

God Reigns! Earth Rejoices!

Tune Information

c minor


Musical Suggestion

The association of the tune NOËL NOUVELET with both Christmas (“Sing We Now of Christmas”) and Easter (“Now the Green Blade Rises”) might aid congregations to pick up on the connections of this psalm with these particularly festive seasons.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

God Reigns! Earth Rejoices!

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 97 is historically appointed for Christmas Day, so Michael Morgan prepared his text setting to fit a popular medieval French Christmas carol. It was first published in this combination in Psalms for All Seasons (2012). He provided the following background:
Martin Tel asked me to write a new setting of Psalm 97, combining the Old Testament imagery with some strong allusions to the Advent and Christmas anticipation and joy we have as New Testament Christians.
The old French carol, Noel Nouvelet, has both the minor tonality we associate with Jewish folk tunes, and the energy and excitement we have in the life-changing events which Jesus brings at his nativity, when God meets us face to face, shackles bread, chains of bondage cease, and “former lamentations now are songs of peace.”
— Michael Morgan

This fifteenth-century French carol is entitled NOËL NOUVELET for the original text. This melody was the inspiration for Marcel Dupré when composing his “Variations on a Noël.” 
— New Century Hymnal Companion

Author Information

Michael Morgan (b. 1948) is a church musician, Psalm scholar, and collector of English Bibles and Psalters from Atlanta, Georgia. After almost 40 years, he now serves as Organist Emeritus for Atlanta’s historic Central Presbyterian Church, and as Seminary Musician at Columbia Theological Seminary. He holds degrees from Florida State University and Atlanta University, and did post-graduate study with composer Richard Purvis in San Francisco. He has played recitals, worship services, and master classes across the U. S., and in England, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany. He is author of the Psalter for Christian Worship , and a regular contributor in the field of psalmody (most recently to the Reformed collections Psalms for All Seasons and Lift Up Your Hearts, and the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God).
— Michael Morgan
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