Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come* is a tried and true Christmas Carol, and I think it goes without saying that most people who at least attend church on Christmas and Easter can get through the first verse without a struggle.
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.
As I look at the words, however, I realize that this song could be sung any day of the year. There is nothing about the babe in swaddling clothes, the angels or shepherds. In reality, it doesn’t seem like a Christmas hymn at all, and yet, we do sing it, because the first coming of Christ opened the way for the second coming, as well as his coming into the lives of all who would prepare room for him in their hearts.
It’s important to note that few religions embrace song as does Christianity. That is why a phrase in the second verse catches my attention:
Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy…
Put in the vernacular, we could say, “Joy has come to earth! the Savior reigns over all, so sing his praise, make your songs work to His glory. Nature will echo your praise and keep repeating the joyous news.”
If you’ve made room in your heart for Christ, then most likely he’s given you a new song to sing — not of earthly, selfish love, but about him, his love for you, his coming, his salvation, his goodness and mercy. These are the songs, that when “employed”, draw others to him. I know many a story of a wayward soul being drawn to the Lord by a song they heard coming from a church or a Christian radio station.
In the end, Joy to the World! is a musical statement of faith and fact. The Lord is Come and we should sing about it every day of the year! Put your songs to work for His glory!
*I liked this version because he seems to get the point: Nic Slade recording of Joy to the World. mtbethel.org
*WORDS: Isaac Watts, 1675-1748. MUSIC: George Frederick Handel, 1685-1759.