Joy to the World

lyrics by isaac watts, music by george f. handel

Joy to the World Lyrics


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 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.


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.



Joy to the World Guitar Chords


D                 Em  D    A7 D               

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;

    G       A         D    

Let earth receive her King;

D     G   D        D    G   D 

Let every heart prepare Him room,


And heaven and nature sing,

    A                 A7  

And heaven and nature sing,

    D      G    D      Em  D   A7 D   

And heaven and heaven and nature sing.

Scripture References

  • Psalm 98:4-9 - Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn - shout for joy before the Lord, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
  • Luke 2:10 - But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
  • Revelation 22:20 - He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The Story


Ironically, while Joy to the World is the most widely published Christmas hymn in North America, its writer Isaac Watts never intended it to be a Christmas song.


The poem was originally the the second part of a poem about Psalm 98 written in Watt's book The Psalms of Daved, imitated in the language of the New Testament and applied to the Christian state, a book Watts started writing when his health started to decline at age 45.


The first part of the poem went something like this:


PSALM XCVIII. First Part. (C.M.)

Praise for the gospel

To our Almighty Maker God,

New honors be addressed;

His great salvation shines abroad,

And makes the nations blessed.

He spake the word to Abram first;

His truth fulfils the grace;

The Gentiles make his name their truth,
And learn His righteousness.

Let the whole world His love proclaim

WIth all her different tongues;

And spread the honors of His name

In melody and songs.


The second part of the poem was verbatim what we sing today (with the last line repeated twice). This was called PSALM XCVIII. Second Part. (C.M.) and was subtitled The Messiah's coming and kingdom. So the poem we sing today as a Christmas carol was actually originally written about Christ's second coming. But happily, it works for both.


The hymn, of course, gained popularity when in 1836 Lowell Mason arranged a tune out of themes in George F. Handel's Messiah, specifically from Comfort Ye, Lift Up Your Heads, and Glory to God.

Isaac Watts has been called "The Father of English Hymnody". Over two centuries after his death, his sings are still being sung today. Among the over 600 hymns he wrote in his lifetime are familiar hymns as Alas and Did My Savior Bleed, At the Cross, We're Marching to Zion, I Sing the Mighty Power of God, O God Our Help in Ages Past, This is the Day the Lord Has Made, When I Can Read My Title Clear, and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Ironically, during his day his poems were viewed by many in the church as "worldly", as church congregants of the day were accustomed to chanting Old Testament Psalms put to poetic form, some of which were so awkwardly and unnatural that John and Charles Wesley's father Samuel called them "scandalous doggerel". Following the Lord's teachings that worship should be in spirit and in truth, Watts wrote poems that cut to the heart and make worship come alive, even for Christians today.



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