One of my favorite songs around Christmas time is Joy to the World. I can’t help but belt out the words to this song when singing with others at church or when I’m driving by myself and listening to the radio!
I want to share a few things you might not know about this song. Joy to the World wasn’t written as a Christmas carol. In fact, in its original form it had nothing to do with Christmas. Yet today, it’s one of the most popular and recognizable Christmas songs! The song is sometimes referred to as an “accidental classic.”
Isaac Watts, the author of Joy to the World, was one of the great hymn writers in church history. He wrote one of his most famous hymns by accident. In 1719, Watts published a book of poems in which each poem was based on a psalm. But rather than just translate the original Old Testament texts, he adjusted them to refer more specifically to the work of Jesus as it had been revealed in the New Testament.
One of those poems was an adaptation of Psalm 98. Watts interpreted the psalm as a celebration of Jesus’s role as King of both his church and the whole world. More than a century later, the second half of this poem was slightly adapted and set to music to give us what has become one of the most famous of all Christmas carols:
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 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!
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!
I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about this Christmas song. As you hear and/or sing Joy to the World during this Christmas season, be encouraged to know our Savior came as a baby in a manger and He will be coming back as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
Have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New year!