Music that Writes Culture, Part 3

Now I want to look in detail at the New Year’s carol – Joy to the World.  In the next installments of this blog series we will examine the significance of each stanza for our lives as we enter this New Year.

As we have said, this hymn celebrates the coronation of King Jesus and announces the marching orders for his Kingdom and subjects.

The first stanza reads:

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

The hymn opens with a benediction – Joy to the World, an act of praise or blessing, similar to the salutations of Paul at the beginning of his letters – Grace and Peace to you!  Here the word of benediction is joy–the delight of the heart and mind.  Why is there joy to the world?  Because “the Lord is come!”  It is the world – her peoples, her nations, her citizens, her institutions – that is to celebrate the coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom.

Notice that Watts (the author of this carol), rather than using the past tense “has come” in that first line, writes “the Lord is come.”  While it is true that the coming of Christ is a historic event, Watts understood that the coming of Christ was more than a past event.  His coming as the Messiah was ushering in a new era of human history.

The long promised coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom is beginning.  Heaven is breaking through to earth, eternity is breaking forth into time, the Kingdom of Light is breaking forth into the kingdom of darkness.  And so Watts uses the present tense and active verb is come.  Christ’s coming is an ever present and ongoing engagement in the world.

Wow, this is reason for the peoples of the world to celebrate!

-Darrow L. Miller

What do you think of this series?  Many more to come!  I love this song!!

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About disciplenations

Equipping the Church to transform the world
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3 Responses to Music that Writes Culture, Part 3

  1. Tyler says:

    these are excellent reflections. i am about to have a friend of mine artistically write out these lyrics so i can put it in my office.

  2. darrow l. miller says:

    Hi Tyler

    Glad you found these helpful.

    darrow

  3. “The long promised coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom is beginning. Heaven is breaking through to earth, eternity is breaking forth into time, the Kingdom of Light is breaking forth into the kingdom of darkness.”

    Truly poetic and inspiring words, Darrow! Let’s celebrate by reaching out to those in need.

    Fernando

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