Friday, December 4, 2009



By Tammy L. Hensel
Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved

In a sermon during the Christmas season last year, our pastor mentioned that the Christmas carol Joy To the World, penned by Isaac Watts, was actually written about the SECOND coming of Christ, not the first. I was intrigued by that claim so I researched Isaac Watts and the song.

Watts was one of the most prolific hymn lyricists of all times, having written more than 750 hymns. He was also a theologian and logician, writing many articles and books on these subjects, including a logic textbook.

Joy to the World was part of a book The Psalms of David published in 1719, in which he paraphrased several Psalms in his own lyrical style. It was given its present tune by Lowell Mason, who used an adaptation of portions of Handel’s Messiah. Mason’s original name for his music composition was Antioch, but in 1839, it appeared in a collection he edited as Joy to the World with the Watts poem as lyrics.


Words by Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748)

Music by Lowell Mason (1792 – 1872)

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 earth, 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.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, 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,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Watts’ inspiration for this particular poem was Psalm 98, which prophesizes the coming of Messiah as victorious king and judge.

Psalm 98 (KJV)

O sing unto the LORD a new song;

For he hath done marvellous things:

His right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

The LORD hath made known His salvation:

His righteousness hath He openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel:

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

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 sound of cornet

Make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.

Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof;

Tthe world, and they that dwell therein.

Let the floods clap their hands:

Let the hills be joyful together

Before the LORD; for He cometh to judge the earth:

With righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity.

When you think of the lyrics as relating to Psalm 98 and the second coming, it makes the message even clearer. In the time between His first advent and His second, the hearts of men are being prepared to welcome Him with joyful praise. In fact all the earth will praise and welcome Him.

Phil. 2:9-11 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The curse on the earth will be broken. Sin and sorrow will no longer reign throughout the earth or in the heart of man. It is a beautiful message filled with the "wonders of His love."

Revelation 19:7-9 7 "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."

What a wonderful day that will be! The joy in the Lord we have today is but a foreshadowing of the joy we will have that day. This is the wonderful truth Isaac Watts so brilliantly wrote about in his lyric. I encourage you to sing this song not just at Christmas, but all year long to proclaim - JOY TO THE WORLD - HE CAME AND HE IS COMING AGAIN!



  1. Tammy,

    I did not know that about Joy to the World. Thanks for teaching me something new.

    I attend a liturgical church, and we observe Advent to prepare for Christmas. The church teaches that we are celebrating three Advents: the Advent of Christ born in the world at Christmas, the Advent of His coming into our own hearts, and the Advent of His coming again in glory.

  2. I had never thought of that--What a wonderful revelation! Thanks for directing me to this, Tammy!