Our God Reigns

Our God reigns

By Leonard E. Smith, Jr., (b. Philadelphia, PA, 1942) composed  in 1973 in Riverton

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him
Who brings good news, good news;
Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness:
Our God reigns, our God reigns!

Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!

He had no stately form, He had no majesty
That we should be drawn to Him.
He was despised and we took no account of Him.
Our God reigns, our God reigns!

It was our sin and guilt that bruised and wounded Him.
It was our sin that brought Him down.
When we like sheep had gone astray our Shepherd came
And on His shoulders bore our shame.

Meek as a lamb that’s led out to the slaughterhouse,
Dumb as a sheep before its shearer,
His life ran down upon the ground like pouring rain
That we might be born again.

Out from the tomb He came with grace and majesty;
He is alive, He is alive.
God loves us so, see here His hands, His feet, His side
Yes we know, He is alive.

This is one of my favourite songs that I learnt soon after I became a Christian in 1986. Indeed my God reigns and I can see it throughout my life. Isaiah 52:7 speaks of “good news,” originally referring to Israel’s delivery from captivity and return to Jerusalem. Today Christians sing these words to celebrate our delivery from sin through Christ (Rom. 10:15-16), who brings salvation and a restoration of God’s rule, resulting in peace and happiness. The song text combines Isaiah’s message with the theme that rings throughout the Psalms: God reigns!

Leonard E. Smith, Jr., (b. Philadelphia, PA, 1942) composed this song in 1973 in Riverton, New Jersey. Lenny Smith as he is popularly known was born in 1942 in South Philly at the Naval Hospital.  His dad was a career military man in the U.S. Marine Corps.  He fought in the Pacific.  Lenny and his family moved from base to base most of his childhood.  Lenny remembers that he even had his own little Marine uniform, of which he was very proud of.  His childhood saw him live in Virginia, Barstow, California, North Carolina, Guam and South Jersey.  The family finally settled in South Jersey and Lenny spent all four years in the same high school.

Educated at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he received a BA in philosophy, Smith first taught in public high schools, but his evangelical efforts in the schools created problems, resulting in his dismissal. He then began painting houses to support his family.

One night as he was reading Isaiah 52 he was overwhelmed by the conviction that God was in control of his life and of all creation; he wrote this song that night in just five minutes. The song was first sung at New Covenant Community Church, where Smith served as worship leader. Though not published for some time, it became known internationally when evangelist Bob Mumford included it in his crusades. It was first published in a Servant Publications hymnal, Songs of Praise (vol. 2, 1977). In 1978 Smith added four additional verses. He has published over 130 Scripture songs with New Jerusalem Music Co.

Regarding his life, Lenny had this to say –“Now that I am 64, my perspective on life has changed quite a bit.  I no longer care about being famous or extremely wealthy or successful or saving the world, although they are fine with me.  The thing I AM most happy about is that Marian and I are close and communicating well and the kids have married very well indeed.  This whole grand children thing is really quite a trip!  I think maybe happiness can happen after all, even here.

I’m not doing carpentry any more.  I’ve been trying to place tracks from artist friends in movies, tv, and ads and am having success.  This is fun, but not as satisfying as building things. Since I will be around until about 2038, the plan is to release a new album about every 2-3 years.  This way, I will get most of my better songs out there.  After I die, I will probably be “discovered” and my songs will be covered and used even more than Dylan’s…but we’ll have to wait for all that.  Right now I have to stop and go take the trash out”- http://soundsfamilyre.com/musicians.php?artistID=3

The chorus alone can be used as an acclamation, especially in informal services, or it can be used as a frame to surround another hymn such as “Sing Praise to the Lord” (466), or, if transposed to C major, added to Psalm 93 or 97.–Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

OUR GOD REIGNS is an effective tune that gains its strength and popularity from its powerful chorus, in which hammer-stroke chords (in the style of George F. Handel‘s oratorios) proclaim “Our God reigns!” Dale Grotenhuis (PHH 4) harmonized the tune in 1984 for the Psalter Hymnal. OUR GOD REIGNS lends itself to either unison or part singing. One of the most widely used Scripture choruses of praise, “Our God Reigns” gained popularity in the Christian Reformed Church when it was a theme song for Christian Reformed Home Missions.


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