Who Wrote "This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made"?

"This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made" is one of the best-known hymns ever written. But did you know it contains ideas from all over the Bible? Here's what you need to know about this famous hymn.

Contributing Writer
Jul 08, 2022
Who Wrote "This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made"?

A modern praise tune titled “This is the Day” by Les Garrett has Psalm 118:24 as its theme verse, and it is the one most of us hum (or sing) when we think of the song. But a lesser-known yet biblically sound hymn was written by Isaac Watts, a prolific seventeenth and eighteenth-century hymnist. His version is titled “This is the Day that the Lord Has Made” (has was originally written hath).

What Are the Lyrics of “This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made”?

Since this is an old hymn, the lyrics are in the public domain and are as follows:

This is the day the Lord has made;
 he calls the hours his own.
 Let heav’n rejoice, let earth be glad
 and praise surround the throne.


Today he rose and left the dead,
and Satan’s empire fell;
today the saints his triumphs spread
and all his wonders tell.


Hosanna to th’anointed King,
to David’s holy Son!
Help us, O Lord; descend and bring
salvation from the throne.


Blessed is Jesus Christ, who came
with messages of grace,
who came in God the Father’s name
to save our sinful race.


Hosanna in the highest strains
the church on earth can raise;
the highest heav’ns, in which he reigns,
shall give him nobler praise.

Isaac Watts 1851 illustration

Photo Credit: Getty Images/denisk0

Who Wrote “This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made”?

Born in 1674, Isaac Watts was the son of a British schoolmaster, and when he was but twenty years old, he wrote his first hymn, “Behold the Glories of the Lamb.” By age 24, Isaac was an assistant pastor in London and ascended to a pastor’s role at 28.

HymnTime notes that Isaac Watts wrote the lyrics in 1719 and included the hymn in his collection The Psalms of David, with an alternate title “Christ’s Resurrection, and Our Salvation.

The music was composed by Thomas A. Arne in 1762 and arranged by Ralph Harrison in 1784.

Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church states Watts had a significant impact as a hymnist: “Watts helped change how people sang (and sing) in the church by facilitating the change from metrical versification to rhymed paraphrase.” Instead of metrical psalms (psalms directly translated to music), Watts wrote hymns that paraphrased psalms with New Testament language worked into them. “This is the Day the Lord Has Made” paraphrases Psalm 118, the concluding psalm in the Hallel Psalms (113-118). The Hallel Psalms were recited or sung during Passover and other Jewish festivals—which may connect Psalm 108 to Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Some scholars believe Psalm 118 was the hymn that Jesus and his disciples sang at the Last Supper. 

The hymn references or paraphrases many other Bible passages, including Genesis 1:3-5, Psalm 38:22, Zechariah 9:9, Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 1:68-75, John 1:14, and Revelation 1:10.

Watts published over 800 hymns. The list includes many we know and use to worship the Lord with our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ, including:

- “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed”

- “Joy to the World, the Lord Is Come”

- “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

- “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”

- “Jesus Shall Reign”

- “Come, We That Love the Lord”

- “There is a Land of Pure Delight”

Some of these songs have taken on new meanings since the days that Watts wrote. For example, many believe “Joy to the World, the Lord Is Come” is a Christmas song when in fact, it’s a song praising God for Jesus’ Second Advent. Even so, these hymns continue to inspire and educate people.

After a lifetime of writing and ministry service, Watts died in 1748 at age 74.

Bible Verses about the Day that the Lord Has Made

The best part about any hymn is the Scriptural references that support the lyrics. We not only think of those references as we sing, but we often sing the hymns when we come across a referenced passage. “This is the Day the Lord Hath Made” is no exception, for Psalm 118:24 says, This is the day that the Lord has madelet us rejoice and be glad in it.” 

Other passages about the day the Lord has made include those on which He either proclaimed a day of remembrance, did a mighty act, or reminded us He is Creator of everything, including time.

Genesis 1:3-5: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

Genesis 2:4 (when God ordered His creation): “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”

Exodus 9:6 (when God protected His people from the plagues He invoked on Egypt): “And the next day the LORD did this thing. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died.”

Exodus 12:14 (on the occasion of the Passover): “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” 

Leviticus 23:3 (The Lord created the Sabbath day as a holy day): “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.”

Job 38:12 (God tells Job of His ordinances for each day): “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place,”

Psalm 84:10 (a day which He creates is better spent in His courts): “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” 

Psalm 90:10 (God ordains our days): “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.”

Psalm 90:12 (God tells us to number the days He has given us), “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

John 9:4 (the work we are to do happens in His days), “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”

2 Corinthians 6:2 (this day, created by God, is the day of salvation): “For He says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

Psalm 96:1-4 (praise God every God-made day): “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.”

Romans 14:6 (every day is a remembrance of the Lord, who created it): “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.”

2 Peter 3:8-9 (whatever happens in one of His days is according to His perfect timing): “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Paper saying remember the sabbath day on tablePhoto Credit: Getty Images/Marinela Malcheva

What Can We Learn from “This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made”?

As with any hymn that comes directly from Scripture, we can pray the lyrics back to God as we sing or read them. “This is the Day the Lord Has Made” embraces some glorious lessons

for us.

1. The Lord creates every day. Not only those in heaven, but we here on earth can rejoice in this truth because God is sovereign over everything and everyone. 

2. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, death no longer holds us, and Satan’s power is nullified. We rejoice because he no longer has power over God’s own.

3. We have the amazing honor of sharing the good news of Jesus and how He has changed our lives.

4. Jesus saves! He put on flesh so we might be saved. He is our King descended from David, and all the promises of God are true, and He will fulfill each one of them.

5. The gospel proclaims God’s grace for our sin-sick selves.

6. We, His church, can sing Hosanna with all our strength because He reigns.

A Prayer to Remember “This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made”


As we learn and sing this hymn, may we also have the opportunity to join Your church to sing it in praise of You. You who make every day. Help us to remember You call the earth Your own, and we are Your children. Help us to sing with all our hearts in praise of You—our Lord, our Creator, and Creator of the heavens and earth. Thank You for Your sovereignty and grace. Thank You for Jesus, that He came to atone for our sins, and, because of His resurrection, we live! In Your matchless name, we pray. 


Photo Credit: Getty Images/rudall30

Lisa Baker 1200x1200

Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody. She writes fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis. 

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