Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.@Psalm 98:4
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Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Isaac Watts, The Psalms of David 1719. Curiously, though this ebullient hymn is almost universally sung during Advent and Christmas, it makes no direct reference to the Christmas story in the New Testament. Rather, the theme seems to deal more with the ultimate reign of Christ that will begin at the second advent. Watts gave it the heading, The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom. Here’s what he said about it and its companion hymn, both derived from Psalm 98:

In these two Hymns which I have formed out of the 98th Psalm I have fully exprest what I esteem to be the first and chief Sense of the holy Scriptures, both in this and the 96th Psalm, whose Conclusions are both alike.

Isaac Watts

Regardless of Watts’ intent, Joy to the World is one of his most popular works, appearing in over 1,600 hymnals.

Antioch arranged by Lowell Mason, 1836 (🔊 pdf nwc). The city of Antioch, Syria (now Antakya, Turkey), is where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

The tune is the piecing together of themes in Handel’s Messiah found in the chorus and in the instrumental interludes in Lift up your heads and the introduction and interludes of the recitative Comfort ye. John Wilson in Handel and the Hymn Tune: II, Some Hymn Tune Arrangements, in the January 1986 volume of The Hymn has traced the tune’s origins to A Collection of Tunes, ed. T. Hawkes, 1833, and Voce de Melodia, ed. W[illiam] Holford, ca. 1835. It was popularized in the USA by Lowell Mason who included our version in Occasional Psalm and Hymn Tunes, 1836, and for no stated reason named it ANTIOCH (see Henry L. Mason, Hymn-Tunes of Lowell Mason, 1944).

Young, p. 453

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Adoration of the Shepherds
Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678)

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.

Joy to the earth, the Savior 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.

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.

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.