Friday, December 18, 2009

Joy to the World

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
Psalm 98:4

Recommended Reading
Psalm 100:1-5

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was an English nonconformist pastor, author, and hymn writer. Of his 700 or so hymns, "Joy to the World" is one of the most famous. It was originally published as verses only in 1719 in his book of paraphrases of the psalms of David. The hymn's famous tune, probably by American musician Lowell Mason, is thought to have been coupled with the lyrics in the nineteenth century.

Why did the author of Psalm 98 focus on "joy" as the central theme of the "new song" (verse 1) he exhorted the people to sing? Because that is the central theme of God's coming into the world: "Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord" (verse 8). The apostle Paul wrote that the creation itself waits to be released from the bondage of sin "into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). Any person who has been released from the bondage of sin knows why "joy to the world" is the preeminent expression of Christmas.

If you have not experienced the joy of salvation in Jesus Christ, there could be no better time than this Christmas season.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her King.
Psalm 98, adapted by Isaac Watts

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