Scripture Verse

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Psalm 98:4


Isaac Watts (1674–1748)

Words: Is­aac Watts, The Psalms of Da­vid 1719. The Mes­si­ah’s com­ing and king­dom.

Music: An­ti­och ar­ranged by Lo­well Ma­son, 1836 (🔊 pdf nwc). The ci­ty of An­ti­och, Syr­ia (now An­tak­ya, Tur­key), is where be­liev­ers were first called Chris­tians (Acts 11:26).

Alternate Tunes:

Origin of the Hymn

Curiously, though this ebul­li­ent hymn is al­most uni­ver­sal­ly sung dur­ing Adv­ent and Christ­mas, it makes no di­rect ref­er­ence to the New Tes­ta­ment Christ­mas sto­ry. Ra­ther, the theme seems to deal more with the ul­ti­mate reign of Christ that will be­gin at the se­cond ad­vent. Here’s what Watts said about it and its com­pan­ion hymn, both de­rived from Psalm 98:

In these two Hymns which I have formed out of the 98th Psalm I have ful­ly ex­prest what I es­teem to be the first and chief Sense of the ho­ly Scrip­tures, both in this and the 96th Psalm, whose Con­cl­usions are both alike.

Isaac Watts

Regardless of Watts’ in­tent, Joy to the World is one of his most po­pu­lar works, ap­pear­ing in ov­er 1,600 hym­nals.

The tune is the piec­ing to­ge­ther of themes in Han­del’s Mes­si­ah found in the cho­rus and in the in­stru­men­tal int­er­ludes in Lift up your heads and the in­tro­duc­tion and in­ter­ludes of the re­ci­ta­tive Comfort ye.

John Wil­son in Han­del and the Hymn Tune: II, Some Hymn Tune Ar­range­ments, in the Ja­nu­ary 1986 vol­ume of The Hymn has traced the tune’s ori­gins to A Col­lect­ion of Tunes, ed. T. Hawkes, 1833, and Vo­ce de Me­lo­día, ed. W[ill­iam] Hol­ford, ca. 1835.

It was po­pu­lar­ized in the USA by Lo­well Ma­son who in­clud­ed our ver­sion in Oc­ca­sion­al Psalm and Hymn Tunes, 1836, and for no stat­ed rea­son named it AN­TI­OCH (see Hen­ry L. Ma­son, Hymn-Tunes of Lo­well Ma­son, 1944).

Young, p. 453


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.

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.

Adoration of the Shepherds
Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678)