Joy to the World!
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.
For as long as I can remember, Joy to the World has been my favorite Christmas carol. I have to confess that I don’t know all of the verses of many hymns by heart. But this one I do. Why do I love this carol? Maybe it’s the beautiful musical phrasing at the very beginning of the song. It bursts with Joy in the first line. Maybe it’s the word Joy: much more than happiness…truly a deep feeling that is longer lasting and full of love. Maybe it’s because we usually save this carol until the end of Advent. It’s announcing that Christmas is here! The baby Jesus is born! But it seems like it’s more than that. I decided to do a little research.
“Joy to the World” was included in a book of poetry by Englishman Isaac Watts published in 1719. Over 100 years later his poem was put to the now familiar tune written by American Lowell Mason. It almost immediately became associated with Christmas. At that time, churches typically sang from the Psalter, the Psalms of the Old Testament. Watts rewrote songs in the style and language of the common people. Joy to the World is a paraphrase of Psalm 98. (Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Psalm 98:4) It refers to the Second Coming of Christ rather than the birth of the baby Jesus.
Think about the words:
» Let earth receive her King.
» The Savior reigns.
» No more sins and sorrows growing.
» He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness.
Surely, this describes the world when Jesus returns! Joy as we celebrate the birth of the Babe now and Joy when He comes again.
— Anita Cranford