Scripture Verse

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

Introduction

portrait
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:

illustration
Adoration of the Shepherds
Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678)

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

Lyrics

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.