Joy to the World
DESCRIPTION: "Joy to the world, the Lord is come; Let earth receive her king...." The world is told to hymn to God to rejoice in the arrival of Jesus, who brings love, joy, wonder
AUTHOR: Words: Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Music: Lowell Mason (based partly on phrases from Handel's "Messiah")
EARLIEST DATE: 1719 (Watts, "The Psalms of David"; music published 1837)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad Christmas
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Warren-Spirit, pp. 231-232, "Joy to the World!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fireside, p. 258, "Joy to the World" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 375, "Joy To The World" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, p. 314, "Joy to the World"
ADDITIONAL: Charles Johnson, One Hundred and One Famous Hymns (Hallberg, 1982), p. 37 (cf. also pp. 34-36), "Joy to the World" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ian Bradley, _The Penguin Book of Carols_ (1999), #43, "Joy to the World" (1 text)
Robert J. Morgan, _Then Sings My Soul, Book 2: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories_, Nelson, 2004, pp. 24-25, "Joy to the World" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [359 words]: Alleged to be derived loosely from the final verses of Psalm 98. If so, it is a *very* free adaption. Apparently that is no one's fault in particular; it has been steadily adapted over the years, with each adaption making is less like the original source. And Watts himself admitted that he was adapting the texts to "imitate" the Psalms "in the language of the New Testament."
Julian, p. 607, says this about the evolution of the text:
First published in [Watts's] Psalms of David, &c., 1719, in 4 st[anzas] of 4 l[ines], as the 2nd p[ar]t of his version of Psalm 98. T. Cotterill gave, in the 1st edition of his Sel[ection of Psalms & Hymns for Public and Private Use], 1810, a much altered version of the text, which was repeated in the authorized ed[ition] of 1820 with the repetition of st[anza] i as st[anza] v. This arrangement is known by st[anza] ii, which reads, "Ye saints, rejoice, the Savior reigns," &c. Bickersteth's arrangement in his Christian Psalmody, 1833, is also in 5 st[anzas]; but the added stanza (iii.) is from Watt's version of the first part of the same Psalm. In addition there are also the following: (1) "The Lord is come; leat heaven rejoice," ... and (2) "Joy to the world, the Lord is nigh...." It has also been translated into several languages, including Latin, in R. Bingham's Hymno. Christ. Lat., 1870, "Laetitia in mundo! Dominus nam venit Iesus!"
For more on Isaac Watts, see the notes to "O God, Our Help in Ages Past."
McKim, p. 46, suggests the tune was "adapted from two tunes" by Handel. Reynolds, p. 128, says that "Antioch appeared in Lowell Mason's Modern Psalmist (Boston, 1839) with the indication that it is 'from Handel....' Henry L. Mason... datees the tune as having been written in 1836. The first four notes of the tune are identical with the opening notes of the chorus 'Lift up your heads,' and the notes sung to 'and heaven and nature sing' are like the introduction to the tenor recitative 'Comfort Ye My People,' both from Handel's Messiah. Mason's association of the tune with Handel thus seems to be, as Haeussler says, 'gaining a maximum of fiction from a minimum of fact." - RBW
Last updated in version 5.2
- Julian: John Julian, editor, A Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes)
- McKim: LindaJo H. McKim, Presbyterian Hymnal Companion, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993
- Reynolds: William Reynolds, Companion to Baptist Hymnal, Broadman Press, 1976
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