History of Jesus Shall Reign Where’er The Sun Hymn
AMONG the many monuments of England’s greatest heroes in Westminster Abbey, London, there stands a memorial tablet to Dr. Isaac Watts upon which the poet is represented with pen in handwriting at a table, and above him, an angel is whispering to him words of inspiration. Thus has England honored the memory of the father of modern hymns.
His missionary hymn, beginning “Jesus shall reign where er the sun,” has been used the world over on missionary occasions. It was originally entitled “Christ s Kingdom Among the Gentiles” and is part of his admirable translation of the second part of the seventy-second psalm.
Probably no instance of its use has been more dramatic than when it was sung in one of the South Sea Islands in 1862. The conversion of the South Sea Islanders from cannibalism to Christianity is one of the most brilliant pages in the history of missionary conquest.
One of the tribal kings had been with many of his people converted to Christianity, and he decided to proclaim a Christian constitution for his government. Accordingly, he set apart a certain day for the final ceremony. Over five thousand natives of the islands of Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa were present, rescued from the savagery of heathenism; and during the ceremony they all united their voices in singing :
“Jesus shall reign where er the sun Does His successive journeys run.”