[ecko_quote source=" Luke 2:10"]Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people[/ecko_quote]
No Christmas carol list would be complete without the cheerful celebration song, “Joy to the World.” This lively tune can be easily memorized and simple to play on an instrument. But do you know the interesting story behind this well-loved hymn?
Isaac Watts (1674-1748), author of around 750 songs, is commonly called “The Father of Hymns” due to his popularity as the first English hymn writer. A few of his most well-known songs still sung today include: Come ye that Love the Lord; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; At the Cross; and the topic of today’s post, Joy to the World. Isaac Watts was a young man when hymns other than Psalms were allowed to be sung in the Church of England.
If you notice the lyrics of the song, Joy to the World, you will see nothing about shepherds, a manger, wise men, angels, or any other character or element that we normally associate with the Christmas story. The reason being that Isaac Watts did not write Joy to the World to be a Christmas song. The original theme of this song was intended for the second coming of the Lord. Christmas won’t always be a joyful time, but when Jesus comes back, even the rocks will sing!
I have not been able to establish when or why this hymn became associated with Christmas. Certainly, we can look at the message in the song and see that it can be applied to Christ’s appearance as a babe in Bethlehem. We must prepare the room for Him in our hearts and lives. This is a joyous occasion!
As you hear and sing this beloved carol this season, think about the words. Yes, they apply to the Christmas story in which the 'Lord is come!' We should rejoice! But, let the lyrics all point you to the reason Jesus came: to save the world. Be ready because He is coming again! What a glorious day THAT will be when the whole earth celebrates His appearing!
Jesus’s birth was not Luke’s final word about our joy. Even in the midst of the very worst circumstances — the awful persecution of Jesus and his disciples — Jesus’s message remained the same, “Rejoice.” “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:22–23).
Christmas encourages us to embrace this companionship and “repeat the sounding joy” throughout our lifetime. This verse is one of my favorite Scriptures in the Bible, where the angel of the Lord declares Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. From that, we know our message is GOOD NEWS. Our message brings GREAT JOY. Our message is for ALL PEOPLE. Let’s determine to keep a great spirit throughout this Christmas season and forward.