Joy to the World

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!”
Psalm 98:4–6

At this point in history, most songs sung in European church services were the Psalms in the Old Testament. Though Isaac Watts loved the Bible, he felt that these songs felt “unnatural” to sing in their
modern-day English translations.

After one Sunday service, 15-year-old Isaac complained about “the atrocious worship.” One of the deacons challenged him with, “Give us something better, young man.” He went home and penned his first hymn, and the love of hymn-writing stuck with him the rest of his life.

In 1719, his book “Psalms of David Imitated” was published, not as a new paraphrase of David, but as an imitation of him in New Testament language. Watts’ perspective was the Psalms bursting forth in their complete fulfillment. Joy to the World is the “imitation” of the last half of Psalm 98.

Watts transformed the old Jewish psalm of praise for historic deliverance into a song of rejoicing for the salvation of God that began when the Jesus came “to make his blessing flow far as the curse is found.” Music is from George Frederick Handel, and some scholars say it resembles his greatest work, Messiah.

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.

 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.

About scon777

Pastor/Teacher at Grace Bible Church in Redwood City, CA since 1998.
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