Darrow Miller and Friends

Joy to the World; Heaven Comes to Earth!

  1. Joy to the World; Heaven Comes to Earth!
  2. Far As the Curse is Found
  3. Goodwill from the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem

Joy to the World, penned by Isaac Watts, retains its power 301 years after its initial publication. This hymn celebrates the coronation of King Jesus and announces the marching orders for his Kingdom and subjects, imago Dei humans.

The first stanza reads:

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

The hymn opens with a benediction – Joy to the World, an act of praise or blessing, similar to the salutations of Paul at the beginning of his letters, “Grace and Peace to you!” Here the word of benediction is joy—the delight of the heart and mind.

What’s the cause of the joy to the world? “The Lord is come!” The world—her peoples, nations, citizens, institutions—is to celebrate the coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom.Joy to the world

Notice that Watts, rather than using the past tense “has come” in that first line, writes “the Lord is come.” While it is true that the coming of Christ is a historic event, Watts understood that the coming of Christ was more than a past event. His coming as the Messiah was ushering in a new era of human history.

The long promised coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom is beginning. Heaven is breaking through to earth, eternity is breaking forth into time, the Kingdom of Light is breaking forth into the kingdom of darkness, God has become human. And so Watts uses the present tense and active voice is come. Christ’s coming is an ever present and ongoing engagement in the world.

Wow, this is reason for the peoples of the world to celebrate! Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Enjoy this rendition of Isaac Watts’s three-century-old carol.

Merry Christmas!

-Darrow L. Miller


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