Joy To The World – The Christmas Carol That Isn’t About Christmas

My younger sister used to love the Christmas Carol Joy To The World. When she was little, she would sing out, “Let every heart repair His room!” I can still hear my mother crying out, “Prepare! Sing it right. Prepare Him room.”

I’ve often wondered if my sister would have enjoyed the Christmas Carol so much if she would have realized that it actually isn’t about Christmas. The lyrics were originally written as a poem in 1719 by the English hymn-writer Isaac Watts in His collection The Psalms of David. The poem was based on Psalm 98 which is actually more reflective of Christ’s second coming than of His birth. In 1836, a Boston music teacher set Joy To The World to music and published it in December which is why it became associated with Christmas. 

I’ve heard it said that ignorance is bliss. When I first learned the truth about Joy To the World, I couldn’t sing it during the Christmas season. It bothered me to no end that the entire world was wrong about the meaning of the song. But, as I matured, I thought, “Who cares?” It’s a great song of worship that brings joy to millions of people every year. Isaac Watts would be thrilled with the success of his poem. 

If the Lord is honored by it, that’s enough for me. Besides, I love the memory of my sister singing it. She’ll have to tell me if she still likes it when she reads this.

Click Here to listen to one of my favorite renditions of Joy to the World by Whitney Houston and the Georgia Mass Choir.

*Image courtesy of Leon Oblak

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