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The Story Behind the Song: Joy to the World

While most Christmas carols focus on the story of the nativity in the past, one well-known hymn encourages Christians to look forward to the future.    

Claire Pfann, Academic Dean at University of the Holy Land, says, “There is one Christmas carol that is unlike all others, having to do with the coming of Jesus. That song, Joy to the World, is not about the First Coming of Jesus. That hymn is about the Second Coming of Jesus.”

“Joy to the World” was originally part of a book of poems written in by the great English hymn writer, Isaac Watts in 1719.  Based on the 98th Psalm, the poem was never intended to be a Christmas song… or any kind of song, for that matter. And Watts never knew that he had just written one of his most famous hymns.

A century later a Boston music teacher named Lowell Mason discovered the poem and set it to music. Because it was released at Christmastime, it quickly became a holiday favorite and went on to become the most published Christmas carol in America.

Joy to the World, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every nation prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing. He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the wonders of His majesty. It’s about when He comes again finally and rules in power and justice and mercy.”


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