Joy to the World, the Lord has Come

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast 

Psalm 98

Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
    he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
    to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
    break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
    with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
    let the hills sing for joy together
before the Lord, for he comes
    to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity.

Luke 2:10-11

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Christmas Angel | Cologne, Germany | December 2021

A quick Google search revealed the following about this hymn, Joy to the World:

Since 1719, “Joy to the World” has been a Christmas staple. Its lyrics were crafted by Isaac Watts, and to date, it remains one of the most-published hymns in Northern America. However, the fun fact is, the song wasn’t even intended to be a Christmas carol, as its original version had no such link with Christmas. It wasn’t even supposed to be a song!

Regardless of whether this was initially to have been a Christmas carol, it is certainly today a barn burner! I love this hymn. Most likely so do most readers of this blog. It’s easy to sing, and I can even play it on the piano; it’s a simple scale key of C major. And certainly the words capture the hearts of believers. For joy is found in God’s salvation. And Jesus is God’s gift for the salvation of all people.

Yesterday at St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas, Pastor Jeff Doria reminded us all of the blessings God brings to us in the birth of Jesus – no matter our circumstances. Loneliness. Depression. Fear. Anger. Despair. Disappointment. Gnawing anxiety. I’m thinking of families that are split because of careless words, unreleased grudges, hurt feelings, and stubborn willfulness. I’m imagining deployed soldiers who can’t be home for Christmas and their families who wait for their return. I know there are those facing their first Christmas without a husband, dad, and granddad. And those who are facing their fifth such Christmas alone and still grieving.

But the Lord has come! He brings joy that transcends outward circumstances. God is not aloof. He has not abandoned us. He is not holding a grudge. He forgives us. He offers us an eternal hope that will never disappoint. He announces it to shepherds with a choir of angels. All of heaven is rejoicing in the birth of Jesus. Now, as we remember and celebrate this birth, we sing, too: Joy to the world the Lord has come!

And when we sing others join the song. Children sing – sometimes nearly yelling the words. Choirs sing the descants as the congregation sings the melody. When that happens, our joy is increased. Joy shared is joy multiplied. That’s so appropriate for this joy is to the world.

I love this hymn because it calls for the world to rejoice in the Savior’s birth. Heaven and nature sing! Repeat the sounding joy! Celebrate the wonders of his love. Every heart prepare him room. Let all their songs employ. Rejoice in the glories of his righteousness.

That last thought is where I want to stop and ponder. The righteousness of God is revealed in the Good News of Jesus. It is a righteousness of faith. It is righteousness from God, given to us for Jesus’ sake. For Jesus is purely and perfectly righteous. That never changes. My outward circumstances may change. My faithfulness may waver. My love may ebb and flow. None of that is righteous. But God’s perfect righteousness is a gift that never flags or falters. That is good news of great joy for me, for you, and for all the world!

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 Earth, the Savior reigns
Let all their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy

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

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

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