“Joy to the World”

The year 2019 is the 300th anniversary of the hymn “Joy to the World”.  This hymn has graced the church worldwide for the occasion of celebrating the birth of Jesus.  In 1992 a survey was taken by Disciples of Christ churches and this hymn was designated as the most widely sung hymn across our denomination.  This was the first hymn selected to go in our current hymnal because of this hymn’s endorsement.

The words of the hymn were written by Isaac Watts in 1719.  The music for the hymn was arranged by George Handel and is pieced together from phrases from his Messiah.  The origins of the words are grounded in Psalm 98:4, 9 which says, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth…for he is coming…”  The arrival of Jesus calls forth a response of joy and celebration that rings out in this favorite Christmas carol.

This hymn has blessed the church for 300 years.  It is a Christmas hymn that is sung every year to celebrate the incarnation and arrival of Jesus to our world and into our hearts.  This year we will get to sing this hymn twice.  The first time will be on December 1 during our Hanging of the Greens service.  The other time will be on Christmas Eve.

The Christian seasons of Advent and Christmas are a special time of year that enables us to focus on the importance of Jesus and what he has meant to humanity and our world for generations.  As we celebrate the anniversary of such a festive carol, may we also approach this season with a festive generous and hopeful spirit.  Let us join in the traditions that have shaped who we are, but may we also be open to how God might use us in new ways beyond what has been our traditional ways of celebrating this season.  Be open to surprises and ways to share the joy of Christ’s birth with those you encounter and see.

I will close by sharing some of the words of “Joy to the World” so they will begin to echo in your mind,

“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.”

Be the JOY for Christ this season of Advent and Christmas.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilson