“Joy to the World”

Read: Psalm 98; Isaiah 40:3-5; St. Luke 2:10

Some of the most beautiful music ever written is that of the Christmas season. Music helps us praise and thank God for the wonderful gift of His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. In our Monday devotions in December we have focused on some of the familiar carols and hymns we sang in our services.

When is a Christmas carol not really a Christmas carol? When it doesn’t focus on the birth of Christ, perhaps?

Take “Joy to the World” for instance. Isaac Watts based this text on the last half of Psalm 98, which celebrates the coming of the Lord to judge the world in righteousness. The Psalmist calls on all creation to sing and shout for joy at the Lord’s coming. There is nothing in the Psalm or in Watt’s paraphrase that specifically mentions the birth of Jesus, just the Lord’s return in judgment.

So should we stop singing this at Christmas? Not at all! This hymn celebrates God’s involvement with His people—and this work of God began at the stable in Bethlehem. At Christmas we need bifocal vision. We need to look back and praise God for the glorious gift of His Son, Jesus. But we should also look forward to Christ’s return, when God will fully bring a righteous conclusion to all things. Then we will begin to fully enjoy the “wonders of His love” for eternity.

# 267 E.L.W. “Joy to the World”

  1. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
    Let earth receive her king; let ev’ry heart prepare him room
    and heav’n and nature sing, and heav’n and nature sing,
    and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.
  2. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
    Let all their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
    repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy,
    repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
  3. No more let sin and sorrow 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.
  4. 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.

How has prayer helped you? How does your personal prayer time and communal prayer time in worship inform and feed you? Look for more stories of prayer in next week’s Monday Meditation.