Rejoice! the Lord Is King!

Hymn of the Month
Hymn Info ~ Author ~ Compose

It seems at times that there are more problems in the world to cause sorrow than there are reasons to rejoice. For Christians, however, the hope that faith in Christ brings is like knowing that the beauty of spring flowers will come after a brown leafless winter.

As we commemorate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, at Easter every year, we remember the hope He provides of a glorious life beyond the grave. This is a reason to rejoice indeed!

In our hymn, "Rejoice, the Lord Is King!" the author, Charles Wesley, enumerates additional reasons we have to rejoice in the Lord. In the first verse, he reminds us that we can rejoice because Jesus is our King! For many today who live as free, independent people in a democratic republic, this may not seem to have much meaning. The author, however, lived as a British subject under the reign of Kings George II and George III. His lifetime spanned the years of the Scottish Jacobite rebellion and the American Revolutionary War. This understanding gives meaningful perspective about kings to the author's expressions in the text.

While many today may not currently live under a king's rule, most everyone on earth lives in a country under some type of government, and as we read in the Biblical Proverb, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn." We can imagine then, what a wonderful society we would have with a perfectly righteous leader at the head of our government! While the prophesied coming of the Lord may not take place during our lifetime on earth, we can choose to be part of his kingdom in heaven. There, we can express adoration and gratitude to our Redeemer, and our songs of triumph and rejoicing can truly be "evermore."

In the second and third verses we are exhorted to rejoice that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, a God of truth and love, who reigns, or possesses and exercises sovereign authority and power, and rules over both earth and heaven. To rule is to exert control over, and we rejoice that he had power and ability to rule over death. Through his suffering and atonement for our sins He rules over the punishment of hell also, thus holding "the keys of death and hell."

In the second verse, the last phrase is based on the Apostle Paul's teachings in the book of Hebrews. It reminds us of the eternal role of the Savior. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews 1:1-3) Although we may not always recognize His unseen hand in our lives, we can rejoice that because of his marvelous power," his kingdom cannot fail."

The text of the chorus is based on the Biblical instruction of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians that they should "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice."

It is likely that the text was written within a few years of its appearance in "Hymns for Our Lord's Resurrection" published in 1746 at London, England. See an image of this book below as found at

As seen in the image, the text appears to have originally been written with six verses. The last three are not as commonly used today as the first three. A few of the words in the second and third verses have been changed over the years. The original text reads as follows:


1 REJOICE, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore,
Mortals, give Thanks and sing, And triumph evermore;
Lift up your Heart, lift up your Voice, Rejoice, again, I say, Rejoice.

2 Jesus the Saviour reigns, The GOD of Truth and Love,
When He had purg'd our Stains, He took his Seat above:
Lift up your Heart, lift up your Voice, Rejoice, again, I say, Rejoice.

3 His Kingdom cannot fail, He rules o'er Earth and Heaven;
The Keys of Death and Hell Are to our Jesus given:
Lift up your Heart, lift up your Voice, Rejoice, again, I say, Rejoice.

4 He sits at GOD's Right-hand, Till all his Foes submit,
And bow to his Command, And fall beneath his Feet.
Lift up your Heart, lift up your Voice, Rejoice, again, I say, Rejoice.

5 He all his Foes shall quell, Shall all our Sins destroy,
And every Bosom Swell With pure Seraphic Joy;
Lift up your Heart, lift up your Voice, Rejoice, again, I say, Rejoice.

6 Rejoice in Glorious Hope, Jesus the Judge shall come;
And take his Servants up To their Eternal Home:
We soon shall hear th' Archangel's Voice, The Trump of GOD shall sound, Rejoice.

The hymn text of "Rejoice, the Lord Is King!" has been set to a number of different tunes over the centuries. The most popular according to is named DARWALL, written by John Darwall about 1770. Over a hundred years later, around 1894 Horatio Parker wrote a setting for the text, which he named JUBILATE, which is the Latin word for 'rejoice.' Both tunes have a sequentially upward movement that is very suited to the emphasis of the message. The text varies somewhat between the two, however, to fit the meter of the tune.

"Rejoice, the Lord Is King"appeared with the JUBILATE tune in the 1948 edition of "Hymns, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (LDS Hymnal). It continued in the same key, essentially unchanged, in the current 1985 LDS Hymnal.

A timeless, classic hymn of praise, it continues to remind us of the reasons we have to rejoice in this world.

The Author

Charles Wesley was born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley in December of 1707 at Epworth, North Lincolnshire, England. Epworth is a small town and parish about 45 miles southeast of Leeds. His father, Samuel Wesley, was a Church of England rector (professional clergyman with property rights), and Charles was born at the rectory (residence of the rector.)

Charles was the eighteenth of the nineteen children in the family. Education for children was not required for everyone at that time in England. There was even some resistance to providing education for the poorer classes. The educational system was a mix of parish schools run by the local clergy that were not available everywhere, and private preparatory schools and academies. Charles received his early education at home, including, it is said, weekly instruction in religious matters from his mother.

Life in early eighteenth century England was challenging. The industrial revolution would soon begin but most people lived in rural areas and most work was done by hand and with the aid of animals. Three cornered hats, wigs and knee breeches were the fashion for men.

In 1716, at the age of about nine, Charles left home to attend Westminster School in west London. He lived with his older brother, Samuel, who was said to be Usher at the privately endowed school located near Westminster Abbey. Westminster School originated in 1129 and was only for boys, girls would not be admitted for another 256 years.

Charles evidently did well in school as five years later he was elected as a King's Scholar and received board and tuition free. In 1726, at the age of about nineteen, he went on to Oxford University, having been elected to a Westminster studentship at Christ Church College there. He was said to have been bright but also full of fun. He settled down however, and three years later assisted his brother, John, and several others in organizing 'The Holy Club', which was devoted to study of the Bible and receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist. Their devotions were very regular and structured and their peers began calling them "Methodists." This term stayed with them and would affect many others in the future.

Charles received his degree and became a tutor at the college while pursuing a master's degree. When he completed this in 1733, at the age of about 26, he had become an excellent scholar and skilled in Latin.

In 1735, he began his career as a clergyman of the Church of England and received deacon and priest's orders. He and his brother John then left for the American colonies as missionaries for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG). The society began as a Church of England organization chartered by the king in 1701 to send missionary Priests and schoolteachers to the American colonies and then to other countries. The Wesley's went to the Colony of Georgia, which had been founded two years earlier. Charles became secretary to General Oglethorpe, the governor, an English army officer who had secured the charter for the colony. He intended it to be a place where persecuted Protestants, the poor and destitute could start afresh. The first place settled was Savannah and it is likely that this was where the Wesley brothers lived.

The hot, humid climate proved too difficult to adapt to, as air conditioning would not be invented for another 167 years. Charles returned to England the following year, 1736.

Charles and John came in contact with some influential reformers, which had great effect on their futures. It is said that in 1737 Charles had a profound spiritual experience and spent the remainder of his life as a preacher. He espoused the view that faith in Jesus Christ could change one's life. This was not an accepted viewpoint with everyone, as many held Calvinistic views of predestination, and Charles received a good deal of persecution. While not renouncing the Church of England in their lifetime, the teachings of John and Charles Wesley formed the foundation of the Methodist church.

In April of 1749, at the age of 41, Charles married Miss Sarah Gwynne. Theirs was said to have been a happy marriage, and they had a large family.

Charles also ministered to the poor, and the prisoners at Newgate prison. He was known for his power and wisdom. He used his literary gifts to write poems and hymns to supplement his preaching and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ as he understood it. He was said to be a master of the English language, which is evident with his prolific hymn writing. He is said to have written about 6500 hymns. He became known as "The Bard of Methodism," and is considered one of the greatest hymn writers of all ages.

Charles Wesley passed away in March of 1788, at the age of eighty. He was survived by his wife, four children, and a legacy of faith that has passed on to us.

Charles Wesley was the author of the February 2017 hymn of the month, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" and the information above is reproduced from that article.

Rejoice! the Lord is King!
Text as found in the 1985 LDS Hymnal

Rejoice, the Lord is King!
Your Lord and King adore!
Mortals, give thanks and sing
And triumph evermore.

The Lord, the Savior reigns,
The God of truth and love.
When he had purged our stains,
He took his seat above.

His kingdom cannot fail;
He rules o'er earth and heav'n.
The keys of death and hell
To Christ the Lord are giv'n.


Lift up your heart!
Lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!
Lift up your heart!
Lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

The Composer

Horatio William Parker was born to Charles Edward and Isabella Graham Parker in September of 1863 at Auburndale, Massachusetts. Auburndale is a village in the town of Newton, Massachusetts, about ten miles west of Boston.

Horatio's father was a prominent architect in the Boston area, and it appears that Horatio was named after his uncle, who was said to be a lawyer in Boston. It can be presumed that the parents had means to provide well for their son's education and likely promoted his musical abilities. It is said that he was composing at the age of fifteen. At seventeen, he was reported to be serving as a church organist at Dedham, about nine miles southeast of Newton. Around the age of nineteen, he went abroad to study music at the conservatory in Munich. It seems likely that it was during these few years in Bavaria that he met his wife, Anna Ploessl, who was born in Munich, Bavaria.Returning to New York about 1886, Horatio taught music at the National Conservatory for about eight years.

A son, Charles E., was born to Horatio and Anna in 1891 while living in New York, but he died at the age of six months. It is believed that they also had two daughters who lived to adulthood.

In 1894 at the age of thirty-one, Horatio became a professor of music at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. It was also around this time that he wrote the hymn tune JUBILATE for the text of "Rejoice, the Lord Is King!" Ten years later, in 1904, he would become Dean of the school of Music at Yale.

In addition to his academic work, Horatio also served as a church organist and choirmaster at churches in Boston and New York. He was apparently active in promoting music in the community, and is said to have founded the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and conducted the New Haven Choral Society for a time. Horatio composed music of various styles, but he was best known for his choral works, these included an oratorio and two operas.

His creative work was unfortunately cut short due to illness. He died of pneumonia in December of 1919 at the age of fifty-six. His remains were laid to rest near his parents' graves at the cemetery of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts; just a few miles from his birthplace.

Information in this article came from:

'Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1985, #66)

'Holy Bible, King James Version,' Psalms 32:11, p. 733; Proverbs 29:2, p. 842; Philippians 4:4, p. 1491; Hebrews 1:3, p. 1521. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1979)

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, (G & C Merriam Company, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1975)

Karen Lynn Davidson, 'Our Latter-day Hymns,' pp. 95-96, 421, 457. (Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1988)

J. Spencer Cornwall, 'Stories of our Mormon Hymns,' p. 13, 14, 166. (Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1963)

"Charles Wesley." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . 26 Feb. 2017 <>.

Gillard D (2011) Education in England: a brief history

"Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 1 March 2016), > image 139 of 313; Massachusetts Archives, Boston.

"Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), > image 302 of 559; State Archives, Boston.