The Story of “Joy to the World”
Christmas carols stir many emotions. From the gentle, sweet melodies of “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night” to the exuberant sounds of “O Come all Ye Faithful” and “Angels We Have Heard on High,” we can experience the emotions of peace and joy that are a part of the Christmas season.
The carols usually tell of the shepherds, wise men, and angels. However, one in particular does not mention any of these. “Joy to the World” was written as a song rejoicing in the salvation of God through Jesus, not specifically as a Christmas song. It is based on the last part of Psalm 98 that begins “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth…” and concludes with “let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth with righteousness…”(KJV).
In the 1700’s congregational singing was strictly limited to the Psalms. Young Isaac Watts complained about the music of the church and was challenged to write something better. One of those songs was “Joy to the World” from reading Psalm 98. Watts wrote many more hymns and later became known as “The Father of English Hymnody.” Centuries ago, God used a dissatisfied musician to bring about changes in church music that we still sing today.
“Joy to the World” is a proclamation of the delight of salvation in Christ.
Its message has encouraged believers for many centuries. Let its sound resonate in your heart!
Joy to the world the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King;
let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven 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 make the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.
Those words truly bring joy and hope to us today.
Here is a story that shows how the power of music can change a heart: