Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Joy to the World" - is it really a Christmas song?

"Joy to the World," which was written by Isaac Watts and set to music by George Frideric Handel, is a well-known and well-loved hymn.  But did you know that it really isn't a Christmas hymn?  The lyrics are based on Psalm 98. A look at the lyrics of "Joy to the World" indicates that it is actually about Christ's second coming and the Millennial Kingdom and not about His first coming.

For example, in the first verse, there is a line that reads, "Let earth receive her King."  Jesus did not come as a king at His first coming, but as a baby in a manger.  "And heaven and nature sing" is a general reference to verses 7-9 of Psalm 98, in which the seas, the rivers and the hills rejoice.

The second verse has a line that reads, "Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns," and the fourth verse starts with the line "He rules the world with truth and grace."  The third verse states:  "No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground." These are references to the Millennial Kingdom, when Jesus will reign over the new earth.

So why do we sing "Joy to the World" at Christmas then?  I believe it is to remind us that Jesus is coming back again.  Indeed, in some mainline Christian denominations, Advent is the only time you'll hear about Christ's Second Coming.  Advent is definitely an appropriate time to think about the Second Coming, but I think Jesus' second coming should be talked about more than once a year.  If we have been born again and are taken to heaven in the Rapture, we will be coming back with Christ at His second coming, and how exciting that will be! We should be looking forward to the day when Jesus will return and establish His reign upon the new earth.

Wouldn't it be awesome if that when Jesus returns, the whole world, mankind and nature would sing "Joy to the World"? The second verse reads: "Let men their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy."  How thrilling that would be!

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately.  I've had a lot of stuff going on the last few months and just haven't been in the mood to write. I hope that 2015 will be a better year.  Since today is Christmas Eve, I would like to wish my loyal readers a happy and blessed Christmas!