Monday, December 21
The opening line of “Joy to the World” is sometimes sung incorrectly as, “The Lord has come.” That is not the way Isaac Watts wrote it. He wrote, “The Lord is come.” Watts was not describing a past event (the birth of Jesus), but rather looking forward to a future event (the return of Jesus).
This hymn text was written as a paraphrase of Psalm 98, one of several psalms considered messianic. Watts understood it to be about the reign of the Messiah. And that’s precisely what the song is about. It speaks of Jesus’ coming to earth when “the Savior reigns” and when “He rules the world with truth and grace.” Watts wanted us to think of that glorious day when the “nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love.” It could not happen without the birth of Jesus. Read Psalm 98 through the lens of Christmas.
When you sing this beloved carol this season, remember we have two occasions of “good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10) worth singing about: one has happened, one is coming. May that thought bring you great joy!