Monday, March 19, 2018

Joy to the World

December 15, 2007 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

Joy To the World
by Jan Ross

It’s so easy to take the old Christmas carols for granted thinking they’re out-dated or old-fashioned. But in doing a little research, I’ve learned that there’s a richness found in them that has unfortunately been lost throughout the years.

For instance, “Joy To the World” was actually written to a musical score entitled “Antioch”, named after the city of Antioch where believers were first called Christians (see Acts 11:26).

Psalm 98:4-6 seems to reveal the heart of the Psalmist captured in the words to “Joy To the World”: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and the sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King.”

Now, consider the words to one of the world’s most famous Christmas Carols:

Joy To the World

Joy to the world! The Lord is come:
Let earth receive her King,
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns:
Let me their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

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.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of his love.

According to many historical hymnists, of all the sacred carols, “Joy To the World” is perhaps the most positive and uplifting declaration of the message of Christmas although there is no mention of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the manger, or the wise men. While the initial verse announces that “The Lord is come”, it is the only one that is related to Christmas and the birth of Jesus. The other verses could easily be appropriate for any season of the year.

One other noteworthy fact is that the composer of the tune is generally attributed to Lowell Mason; however, it was his practice to remain anonymous and not take claim to the musical composition. The humility of the composer, coupled with the inspiration of the author, made for a powerful proclamation of praise to the One who “rules the world with truth and grace”!

The second verse reminds me of Jesus entering into Jerusalem on a donkey while the people are crying, “Hosanna!” The Pharisees challenged Him to rebuke His disciples; His response was: “I tell you…if they keep quiet the stones will cryout.” (Luke 19:40)

Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

Will you join the centuries of men, women, and children proclaiming “Joy To the World! The Lord is come!” If we don’t, the “fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains” will cry out in our stead!

Joy to the world!

Jan Ross is an author, missionary, and piano teacher. As President and Co-Founder of Heart of God International Ministries, she longs to see the Kingdom of God established in the hearts and homes of people across the globe and seeking out to reach the lost, wherever and whomever they might be. Jan and her husband Ron make their home in northern Ohio. They are the parents of six wonderful adult children (Glen, Martha, Barbara, Andrew, Dana, and Deborah); they have thirteen incredible grandchildren. Ron and Jan are active in their local church; Jan leads a women’s Bible Study and teaches whenever the opportunity affords.

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