Joy to the World
I love Christmas music. I will listen to Christmas music any time of the year. I think any Christmas song or hymns worth singing in December is worth singing all year ’round. I’d like to share some of my favorites as we anticipate Christmas, and my hope is that studying their history and inspiration will help make our Christmas celebrations even more exciting and worshipful this year.
One of the most popular and recognized Christmas hymns, “Joy to the World,” was written by Isaac Watts, a pastor who wanted to make the Psalms relevant and meaningful to the Christians of his day. He took the images in Psalm 98 and created the lyrics for the hymn we know today.
Isaac Watts was a pastor, but he was also a logician and a poet. He felt it was important for Protestant Christian hymns to be both doctrinally sound and emotionally personal to the individuals singing them. Another great work of his, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” is a great example of his ambition in this regard.
It’s fairly common knowledge that this hymn we enjoy so much around Christmas time wasn’t actually written to celebrate Christ’s birth, but rather to anticipate the celebration at His Second Coming. And yet, it’s enthusiasm, anticipation, and jubilation has made it a fixture for Christmas services every year.
Psalm 98 tells us to shout for joy to the Lord – and not just people, but all of creation. Rivers clap their hands, mountains shout for joy. Watts captured this inherent celebration in creation in his hymn, and we can be reminded that Heaven AND Nature sing with us to praise the Lord and give him glory every single day.
Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room, And heaven and nature sing, And heaven and nature sing, And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders, wonders, of His love.