It is the season to jolly, have a merry Christmas with your friends and family.
Celebrations like Christmas come with its signature features; and of which, from history, is that of “Silent Night”; “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, and of course, “Joy to the World.”
With the focus on Joy to the World, it will interest you to know that the song is technically not a Christmas Carol but a song meant to be sung before Christmas, paricularly at Advent.
Pastor and Hymn Writer, Isaac Watts penned down the song while leading a non-conformist congregation in London.
During this time in history, it was no small thing to be a pastor operating outside the established Church of England. Religious liberty and the freedom to worship within the dictates of one’s own conscience didn’t exist the way we understand it today. In fact, Watts’ own father had been jailed at different points for his views. And despite his intellectual brilliance, Watts couldn’t attend Oxford or Cambridge because he wasn’t Anglican.
The last thing to know about the song is that it was based the text of “Joy to the World” on Psalm 98 which says that all creation sings the praises of its true king. That’s where the “heaven and nature sing” part comes in. Even though the psalmist uses decidedly poetic language (“the rivers clap their hands’ and “the mountains sing together for joy”), the reason for the earth’s joy is clear. The earth praises the king of creation because he is a good and just king. He rules “in righteousness and the peoples with equity” (Psalm 98:7-9 NIV).