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Joy to the World

Christmas song
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"Joy to the World" is a popular Christmas carol.

The words are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. The song was first published in 1719 in Watts' collection; The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship. Watts wrote the words of "Joy to the World" as a hymn glorifying Christ's triumphant return at the end of the age,[1] rather than a Christmas song celebrating his first coming as a babe born in a stable. Only the second half of Watts' lyrics are still used today.[2]

The music was adapted and arranged to Watts' lyrics by Lowell Mason in 1839 from an older melody which was then believed to have originated from Handel, not least because the theme of the refrain (And heaven and nature sing...) appears in the orchestra opening and accompaniment of the recitative Comfort Ye from Handel's Messiah, and the first four notes match the beginning of the choruses Lift up your heads and Glory to God from the same oratorio. However, Handel did not compose the entire tune.[3]

As of the late 20th century, "Joy to the World" was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America.[4]


Well-known recordings

Among the recordings well-known in their day is an instrumental version of "Joy to the World" by conductor Percy Faith. First recorded in 1954 on his "Music of Christmas" LP (Columbia CL 588), it was re-recorded in stereo in 1959 as Columbia 8176.

The popular European group Boney M. covered the song in 1984 which was internationally released in 1986 on their record The 20 Greatest Christmas Songs.

John Rutter arranged the carol in the style of Handel and recorded this arrangement twice with the Cambridge Singers, for their Christmas albums Christmas Star (1983) and Christmas with the Cambridge Singers (1989). His pseudo-Handelian arrangement has also been recorded by other choirs including those of St. Paul's Cathedral and King's College, Cambridge.

In 1965, The Supremes recorded the song for their album Merry Christmas.

Andy Williams recorded the tune in a medium-slow ballad style in his 1974 "Christmas Present" LP.

Mariah Carey re-recorded this song for her 1994 album Merry Christmas. Carey's version, done in a dance-pop style, combined the chorus (with slightly altered lyrics) of the Hoyt Axton song "Joy to the World" (made popular by Three Dog Night) with the traditional Christmas song. Traditionally, only the 1st, 2nd, and last verses are sung, this is evident in the VeggieTales (part of A Very Veggie Christmas) and Disney Sing-Along versions. The Jonas Brothers recorded a version of this song called "Joyful Kings" for the 2008 Disney Channel Holiday album "All Wrapped Up".

Whitney Houston recorded the song for The Preacher's Wife: Original Soundtrack Album (1996).


Verse 1

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.

Verse 2

Joy to the Earth! the Saviour 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.

Verse 3

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.

Verse 4

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.

Note the very first line of the song. What should be "The Lord "has" come" but is really "The Lord "is" come" is no mistake. In old English, verbs of movement such as "to go" and "to come" were used with the auxiliary verb "to be" and NOT the present day auxiliary verb "to have". Learners of German notice that the older forms of English are similar to modern day German language where "I have come (Ich bin gekommen)" is directly translated as "I am come".


Joy to the World, Our Teacher's Dead is a schoolchildren's parody of this song.

In the sitcom Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen sang a parody of the song with sexual dialogue causing a rebuke from the American Family Association. [5]

An album of punk rock band The Vandals, consisting of several christmas themed songs, is called Oi To The World! and was released in 1996.


  1. ^ Joy to the world! the Lord is come! at
  2. ^ Joy to the World!, Worship Leader magazine
  3. ^ Handelian FAQs
  4. ^ It was published in 1,387 hymnals in North America before 1979, as recorded in the Dictionary of North American Hymnology. Top 20 Christmas hymns cited at
  5. ^ 'Two and a Half Men' Rebuked for More Inappropriate Content, The Christian Post, Feb 5, 2007

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Joy_to_the_World". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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