Joy to the World!
My favorite Christmas song is not really a Christmas song.
The words to “Joy to the World” were composed by Isaac Watts in 1719. The words were added to a tune by Lowell Mason in 1836. The song was originally published as “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom” and celebrates the Second Coming of Christ, not the first.
The words from Watts are a paraphrase of Psalm 98. This Psalm speaks to a great triumph for God. This victory will be visible “in the sight of the nations” (v. 2). “All the ends of the earth” (v. 3) will see it. In the hymn, the Lord will make his home with his people, echoing Revelation 21:3-4. As a result of His victory, in Watts’ words, the effects of the Fall and human sin will be reversed in the third stanza, “No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground;” Finally, the Messiah establishes His reign over the Earth with “truth and grace” and demonstrates “the wonders of His love.”
“Joy to the World” certainly deserves a place in our worship services. In an order of worship, this song should be placed second because it is a response on our part to Jesus’s coming and details the benefits that will accrue to us as a result of His triumph.
“Joy to the World” is my favorite Christmas song. But it can be used throughout the calendar because it points to His Second Coming, a time when “…at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11, HCSB).
Listen to “Joy to the World” as performed by the group Third Day.