224

Rejoice, the Lord Is King

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The text rejoices in the kingship of Christ (st. 1) whose rule extends "o'er earth and heaven" (st. 2). All will bow the knee to Christ (st. 3) when he returns in glory to judge "the living and dead" (st. 4). The refrain line based on Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice,” is the keynote of the entire text.  
 
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).

Tune Information

Name
DARWALL'S 148th
Key
C Major
Meter
6.6.6.6.8.8

Recordings

Hymn Story/Background

Charles Wesley wrote this text for Easter and Ascension in six stanzas. First published in John Wesley's Moral and Sacred Poems (1744), the text was also published in Charles Wesley's Hymns for our Lord's Resurrection (1746). The original stanzas 2 and 5 are not included.
 
Written for use at Easter and Ascension, Charles Wesley’s text exalts Christ as king and features Paul’s injunction to “rejoice” as is keynote. The text rejoices in the kingship of Christ (st. 1) whose rule extends "o'er earth and heaven" (st. 2). All will bow the knee to Christ (st. 3) when he returns in glory to judge "the living and dead" (st. 4). The refrain line based on Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice,” is the keynote of the entire text.
 
Composed by John Darwall, DARWALL'S 148TH was first published as a setting for Psalm 148 in Aaron William's New Universal Psalmodist (1770) with only soprano and bass parts. The harmonization dates from the nineteenth century. An Anglican preacher and amateur musician, John Darwall first composed this tune for Psalm 148; it is the only one of his 150 psalm melodies in common use today.
 
The only Darwall tune still in common use, DARWALL'S 148TH is marked by both its dramatic opening figure (outlining the tonic chord) and by the convincing ascent of the final line. Sing in unison or in parts at a lively tempo. Try adding trumpets both to the melody as well as to the descant by Sydney H. Nicholson on stanza 4.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Several members of the Wesley family are significant figures in the history of English hymnody, and none more so than Charles Wesley (b. Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, 1707; d. Marylebone, London, England, 1788). Charles was the eighteenth child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, who educated him when he was young. After attending Westminster School, he studied at Christ Church College, Oxford. It was there that he and George Whitefield formed the Oxford "Holy Club," which Wesley's brother John soon joined. Their purpose was to study the Bible in a disciplined manner, to improve Christian worship and the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and to help the needy. Because of their methods for observing the Christian life, they earned the name “Methodists.”
 
Charles Wesley was ordained a minister in the Church of England in 1735 but found spiritual conditions in the church deplorable. Charles and John served briefly as missionaries to the British colony in Georgia. Enroute they came upon a group of Moravian missionaries, whose spirituality impressed the Wesleys. They returned to England, and, strongly influenced by the ministry of the Moravians, both Charles and John had conversion experiences in 1738. The brothers began preaching at revival meetings, often outdoors. These meetings were pivotal in the mid-eighteenth-century "Great Awakening" in England.
 
Though neither Charles nor John Wesley ever left the Church of England them­selves, they are the founders of Methodism. Charles wrote some sixty-five hundred hymns, which were published in sixty-four volumes during his lifetime; these include Collection of Psalms and Hymns (1741), Hymns on the Lord's Supper (1745), Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1753), and Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists (1780). Charles's hymns are famous for their frequent quotations and allusions from the Bible, for their creedal orthodoxy and their subjective expression of Christian living, and for their use of some forty-five different meters, which inspired new hymn tunes in England.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

The son of a pastor, John Darwall (b. Haughton, Staffordshire, England, 1731; d. Walsall, Staffordshire, England, 1789) attended Manchester Grammar School and Brasenose College, Oxford, England (1752-1756). He became the curate and later the vicar of St. Matthew's Parish Church in Walsall, where he remained until his death. Darwall was a poet and amateur musician. He composed a soprano tune and bass line for each of the 150 psalm versifications in the Tate and Brady New Version of the Psalms of David (l696). In an organ dedication speech in 1773 Darwall advocated singing the "Psalm tunes in quicker time than common [in order that] six verses might be sung in the same space of time that four generally are."
 
Sydney H. Nicholson (b. St. Marylebone, London, England, 1875; d. Ashford, Kent, England, 1947) was an organist and church music educator who greatly influenced English hymnody. Educated at Oxford's New College, the Royal College of Music in London, and in Frankfurt, Germany, he became organist at several famous cathedrals, including Westminster Abbey (1919-1928). Nicholson founded and administered the School of English Church Music at Chislehurst in 1927; this important institution, with branches throughout the English-speaking world, was renamed the Royal School of Church Music in 1945. Located in Canterbury after World War II, its headquarters were moved to Addington Palace, Croydon, in 1954. Nicholson was music advisor for the 1916 Supplement of Hymns Ancient and Modern and prepared the way for its 1950 edition. He wrote Church Music: a Practical Handbook (1920) and Quires and Places Where They Sing (1932) and composed operettas, anthems, and hymn tunes. In 1938 he was knighted for his contributions to church music.
— Bert Polman