Monday, December 25, 2017

Joy to the World!

Joy to the World! 
By: Isaac Watts

Joy the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King;
Let ev'ry heart prepare him room, and heav'n and nature sing, 
And heav'n and nature sing, and heav'n and heav'n 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 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.

While you're reading, you may want to listen to this beautiful hymn. 
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This wonderful Christmas carol was first published in a collection of hymns by the English poet and hymn writer Isaac Watts. The collection, Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament was published in 1719 and contained 132 of the 150 psalms from the Bible, interpreted by Isaac Watts. "Joy to the World" comes from Psalm 98, verses 4-9. 
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together. Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

Before the age of nine, Isaac Watts learned Latin and Greek, and by the time he was thirteen, was close to mastering French and Hebrew. God gave him a brilliant mind; he authored several books on religion and philosophy that had a major impact upon English thought during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Isaac had a desire to promote singing in English congregations. He wanted to make the Scriptures relevant to lay (common) people and saw hymns as a perfect vehicle for this. At the age of eighteen, Isaac began to compose hymns for his own church at the rate of one per week. In 1707 he published 210 of these original hymns in a book entitled, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. In addition to his theological books, Isaac Watts published over 600 hymns in his lifetime. "Joy to the World" would not have become popular, though, without the contribution of two other important men. 

The first man, George Frederick Handel, was a German-born prodigy who had mastered the violin, oboe, harpsichord, and organ while studying law at the university. And all by the age of twelve! One year later, he decided to give up his legal studies to pursue music. In 1712, after he made his second trip to England, he decided to become an English citizen. 

The second composer was the American choir director and educator, Lowell Mason. It was a custom of his to search through previously published hymn texts to find material for his original melodies. Perhaps this is how he came upon Isaac Watt's interpretation of the ninety-eighth Psalm. In an effort to find a melody that conveyed the joyous message of the words, Mason turned to Handel's "Messiah." By taking musical phrases from different sections of the oratorio, Mason arranged them into a tune he called "Antioch." Matched to the words of Isaac Watts, Mason's uplifting melody was published for the first time in 1836. 


To all you blog readers, I wish you and your families a very merry Christmas!  

With much joy, love, and peace as we rejoice in our great Savior,


  1. Joy to the World is such a beautiful song! Thanks for sharing the carol's story. Have a very happy new year!


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