Is 'Joy To The World' Really A Christmas Song?

December 24, 2015Dec 24, 2015

Is "Joy to the World" really a Christmas song? The answer to that question, based on the song's origins, has actually been a matter of debate. Take a look at the lyrics:

"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 World, 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."

Traditionally sung as a Christmas song, the lyrics — written in 1719 — appear to be a triumphant declaration of Christ's birth in Bethlehem, much like the angel's proclamation to the shepherds.

But David A Graham, writing recently in The Atlantic, brings that into question. Graham contends that Issac Watts' "Joy to the World" hymn is actually about Christ's Second Coming.

If you read the lyrics again, you'll see that they do fit prophecy of Christ's triumphant return quite well.


The Bismark Tribune backs up this claim, saying that it's alleged that Watts was inspired to write the hymn after reading Psalm 98. Verses 4 through 9 bear resemblance to Watts' piece and conclude with Christ's judgement of the world.

On the other hand, The St. Augustine Record recently tied the verses of the song to Christ's birth, saying "In every corner of the globe, Christ sets the captive free and puts a song in lonely hearts. He reigns as king in the lives of men. And he can bring joy to you if you really believe the message, 'joy to the world, the Lord is come.'"

When Christ first came to the earth as a babe, He established a spiritual rule — different from what many in the nation of Israel were expecting. When He comes again, He will establish His rule in a way that will change the world physically in a massive way as well. To hear "Joy to the World" as a song about Christ's First Coming as well as His Second Coming in no way diminishes it as a favorite Christmas classic, especially since both of Christ's appearances are of equal importance and bear similarities.

Now watch a majestic rendition by George Fox University: