Joy To The World

joy2bto2bthe2bworldJoy 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.

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,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, 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,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Words by Isaac Watts, 1719
Music by Unkown, (arranged by Lowell Mason, 1836)

 


Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
– Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King.
Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
Psalm 98

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Genesis 3:17 – 19

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Luke 2:10

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
Mathew 25:31


 

It’s called anthropomorphism. Attributing human characteristics to God, animals or inanimate objects.  We use it all the time.  When our car won’t start we might say that our car hates us.  When there is terrible storm we may say that it is angry or the cold is biting. When we find ourselves looking at the mountains, forest or wilderness on a beautiful morning we might say that nature is singing.  Of course, this is not something that is unique to us today, the Bible uses these terms regularly.  Psalm 19:1 says that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  This is the essence behind Issac Watts hymn, “Joy To The World.”

This hymn that we typically ascribe to Christmas, is in fact based on Psalm 98 and not the Christmas story.  (In the same way that Isaac Watts paraphrased Psalm 90 with  “Oh, God Our Help In Ages Past.”)

As I sing through the ever so familiar tune what strikes me is that the song does not speak of what we typically think of as a Christmas song.  It does not speak of Christ birth or the visit from the angels, and the response of the people of the world seems almost secondary. Instead, it speaks of the world and the response of nature to the presence of God. Take a look at the words; “Heaven, and nature sing”, “While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains rrepeat the sounding joy” and “No more let . . . thorns infest the ground.” The final one being a reference to the curse placed upon the ground as a result of the fall of man as found in Genesis 3:17 – 19.  The joy that comes from God’s presence effects all of His creation.  Nature itself sing of the joy joining with the praise of man for the Savior.

But we can find joy in the knowledge that the message of Salvation was given to man.  This is why Luke 2:10 tells us, “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Salvation came to man and as a result, all of creation is blessed. This is the message of redemption.  God reached out to His creation to restore it from the fall.

No this hymn is not written to celebrate Christmas, but to look forward to the future advent, when Christ shall return as the triumphant King.  The time that Jesus himself described by saying, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.” The King is coming again, but until that day we can all join together remembering His birth in the stable and looking forward to His return upon the throne with the words of the hymn, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King.”

 

 

Read more about “Joy To The World.”

 

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