Joy To The World
This familiar hymn we sing during the holidays first appeared not in a collection of Christmas Carols, but in a collection of Old Testament psalms rewritten in poetic verse by Isaac Watts in 1719. Watts was displeased with the poetic versions of the psalms being sung in the churches at the turn of the eighteenth century. So he set about making new poetic versions of the 150 psalms of the Old Testament, which he published in 1719 under the title The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament.
“Joy to the World” is based on Psalm 98, which opens with “O sing unto the Lord a new song.” The psalm is a song of rejoicing for the greatness of God and the marvelous ways He has protected and restored His children. The psalmist calls on the whole creation, man and nature alike, to celebrate in the singing of a new song.
Watts turned this Old Testament psalm into a song of praise for the salvation of God’s people, which began when God became flesh at Bethlehem. In four brief stanzas - sixteen poetic lines -Watts brings a fresh interpretation to Psalm 98.