Joy to the world! the Lord is come!

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1 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.

2 Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns: let all their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

3 No more let sin and sorrow 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.

4 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.

Source: Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #92

Author: Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts was the son of a schoolmaster, and was born in Southampton, July 17, 1674. He is said to have shown remarkable precocity in childhood, beginning the study of Latin, in his fourth year, and writing respectable verses at the age of seven. At the age of sixteen, he went to London to study in the Academy of the Rev. Thomas Rowe, an Independent minister. In 1698, he became assistant minister of the Independent Church, Berry St., London. In 1702, he became pastor. In 1712, he accepted an invitation to visit Sir Thomas Abney, at his residence of Abney Park, and at Sir Thomas' pressing request, made it his home for the remainder of his life. It was a residence most favourable for his health, and for the prosecution of his literary… Go to person page >


Scripture References:
st. 1-3 = Ps. 98
st. 2 = Ps. 96:11-12
st. 3 = Gen. 3:17-18

Isaac Watts (PHH 155) wrote this text as a paraphrase of Psalm 98. He published it in his Psalms of David Imitated (1719) under the heading “The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom.” The paraphrase is Watts' Christological interpretation.

Consequently, he does not emphasize with equal weight the various themes of Psalm 98. In stanzas 1 and 2 Watts writes of heaven and earth rejoicing at the coming of the king. An interlude that depends more on Watts' interpretation than the psalm text, stanza 3 speaks of Christ's blessings extending victoriously over the realm of sin. The cheerful repetition of the non-psalm phrase "far as the curse is found" has caused this stanza to be omitted from some hymnals. But the line makes joyful sense when understood from the New Testament eyes through which Watts interprets the psalm. Stanza 4 celebrates Christ's rule over the nations.

Liturgical Use
Christmas Day, but also at any other time of year in relation to Psalm 98. Raised eyebrows at singing "Joy to the World!" in July will lower as soon as the relationship to Psalm 98 becomes clear.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
Joy to the world, the Lord is come [nigh]. I. Watts. [Ps. xcviii.] First published in his Psalms of David, &c, 1719, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines, as the 2nd pt. of his version of Psalm 98. T. Cotterill gave, in the first edition of his Selection, 1810, a much altered version of text, which was repeated in the authorized edition of 1820 with the repetition of stanza i. as stanza v. This arrangement is known by st. ii., which reads, "Ye saints, rejoice, the Saviour reigns," &c. Bickersteth's arrangement in his Christian Psalmody, 1833, also in 5 stanzas; but the added stanza (iii.) is from Watts's version of the first part of the same Psalm. Both of these texts have been repeated in later collections. In addition there are also the following: (1) "The Lord is come; let heaven rejoice," in Hall's Mitre Hymn Book, 1836; and (2) "Joy to the world, the Lord is nigh," in the Irvingite Hymns for the Use of the Churches, 1864. In its various forms, but principally in the original, it is in use in most English-speaking countries. It has also been translated into several languages, including Latin, in E. Bingham's Hymnologia Christiana Latina, 1870, "Laetitia in mundo! Dominus nam venit Iesus!"

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



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