“Joy to the World” with its exuberant music and words of celebration is one of my favorite Christmas carols. The words are based on Psalm 98, and it is one of the more than 600 hymns written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748).1
He wrote the hymn, however, not of the First Advent of Christ, but of His Second. “Joy to the World” was in Watts’ Psalms of David Imitated, published in 1719, and he titled it, “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.” Verse two refers to Psalm 96:11-12 and verse three to Genesis 3:17-18.2 We have the music through the work of several hands.3
This arrangement for trumpets, timpani, tambourine and organ was done by Icelandic composer and organist, Stefan H. Kristinsson. Click for video:
“Joy to the world! the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
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.
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.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness,
And wonders of his love.”
The third verse is why we repeat the sounding joy at Christmas: Christ was born in Bethlehem to make His blessings flow far as the curse of sin is found.
Repent and believe the Good News of Jesus Christ—the “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Celebrate the glories of His righteousness and the wonders of His love.
1Biography of Isaac Watts: Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
2Joy to the World: Hymnary.org
3 Handelian FAQs: Scroll down to the question about Handel and Christmas carols.