The Standard December 18, 2019
“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 world! 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.”
Isaac Watts wrote these words in 1719 not about the birth of Jesus but about the second coming when Christ will return and the fullness of God’s glory will be revealed. Hundreds of years later Joy to the World is the most published Christmas song in North America. Of course, the lyrics are entirely appropriate for this season.
Watts was inspired partly by Psalm 98. “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn – shout for joy before the Lord, the King.” (Psalm 98:1-6)
This Christmas season we celebrate with joy all that God has done to rescue us. The Messiah came to earth in the form of a helpless baby to procure our salvation. The birth of Jesus is one tangible way that we see God’s bounteous love and grace and the good news of his coming causes us to rejoice.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 8-12)