Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

December 30

Isaac Watts, 1674–1748
The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. (Psalm 50:1)
The spread of Christianity has been phenomenal. In spite of cruel persecution of Christ’s followers in the first three centuries A.D. and from time to time through the years since, His kingdom has continued to spread to “realms and people of every tongue.” Periods of attack on believers have served only to increase their fervor and growth. Then in recent years, with the rapid development of technology—radio, television, gospel films, Bible translations and distributions—the preaching of the gospel has been heard by more people than ever before in the history of mankind.
When this stirring hymn was written in 1719, however, the evangelical missionary movement that we know in our time had scarcely begun. In 1779 William Carey was one of the first to try to persuade Christians to carry the gospel message to heathen countries of the world. Isaac Watts was certainly quite prophetic when he paraphrased this text from Psalm 72. It is still considered one of the finest missionary hymns ever written and has been sung in countless native tongues. In the South Sea Islands in 1862, 5,000 primitive people sang this hymn as the king abolished their native laws and established a Christian constitution.
It is thrilling for us to realize that the praise of Jesus, Bethlehem’s humble Babe, is continuing to spread and that some day soon His kingdom will “spread from shore to shore” and every tribe, language, people, and nation will bow down and exalt His name together.
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun does his successive journeys run, His kingdom spread from shore to shore till moons shall wax and wane no more.
From north to south the princes meet to pay their homage at His feet, while western empires own their Lord and savage tribes attend His word.
To Him shall endless prayer be made and endless praises crown His head: His name like sweet perfume shall rise with ev’ry morning sacrifice.
People and realms of ev’ry tongue dwell on His love with sweetest song, and infant voices shall proclaim their early blessings on His name.

    For Today: Psalm 10:16; 72; Isaiah 33:17; Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15

Rejoice in the many endeavors in our day that work to spread the gospel around the world. Resolve to do more personally to assist through prayer and financial support. Reflect on the truth of this hymn—

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