Joy to the World is still one of my favorite Hymns. But, did you know it is not a “Christmas” hymn? I know disappointing, right? Isaac Watts, an English minister and hymn writer, based “Joy to the World” on his paraphrase and interpretation of Psalm 98. And if you did not know it, Isaac was a bit of a musical rebel in his day.
“The Psalms of David: Imitated in the New Testament’s language and applied to the Christian State and Worship,” a compilation by Watts, originally featured the hymn in 1719. Watts’ does not give each of Psalm 98’s themes equal weight in this work. As he did not intend for this song to be a Christmas Carol, for he focused the lyrics referring to Christ’s Second Coming, rather than the subject matter of Jesus’ Birth. Consider the words below in the context of our conversation about the soon coming King of kings and Lord of lords:
“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 world! The Saviour 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.”
Now, like most of you, I cannot imagine Christmas without singing, “Joy to the World” at least once. By keeping in mind that Isaac was seeking to celebrate the final restoration of all things in Jesus, it helps me remember that there was a King in the Cradle on Christmas Day.
So, can you see it now? The end of the book of Revelation in poetic verse; “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3–4)