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Joy to the World

Joy to the World
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By: Kerby Anderson

Although we usually sing the carol “Joy to the World” during the Christmas season, the hymn isn’t really about the incarnation of Jesus. Isaac Watts wrote it and has often been known as the “Father of English Hymnology.” He composed “Joy to the World” in 1719. It was originally titled “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.” The original title illustrates why there is no reference to angels, shepherds, or wise men. It is really about Christ’s second coming. That doesn’t mean we can’t sing about the coming of Christ as King during the Christmas season since His first coming foretells His second coming.

The hymn is actually a paraphrase of Psalm 98: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praise.” It then answers why: “for He [the Lord] comes to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, and the people with equity.”

Psalm 98 was originally a song of rejoicing for the Lord’s protection of His chosen people. Isaac Watts used it as a New Testament expression of praise. Remember what the angel said to the shepherds: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy.”

The hymn proclaims that the earth should “receive her King” and every heart should “prepare Him room.” That has not happened yet, but there will be a time when, as the hymn says, “the Savior reigns.”

“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.” Because of the Fall, we now have thorns and thistles. But in the New Heaven and Earth, the curse will be gone.

Christ will also come as Judge and Ruler. The hymn proclaims that, “He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.”