By Jean Rodman
Psalm 98: 4-9 encourages man to “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.” It reminds me of standing beside a fast running stream in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico or walking along the scenic coastline of the ocean in Maine. Nature exploding with joyful rhythms.
Isaac Watts was inspired by these verses to write the hymn, “Joy to the World!” Watts (1674-1748) wrote many hymns that focused on the life aimed toward God. The four verses of “Joy to the World” speak of joy when the King is received, joy when the Savior reigns, joy when the sinner repents, and joy when the Truth Rules With Grace. The hymn became associated with Christmas years later because the message in the song can be applied to Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem. It is one of the best loved hymns of the Advent season.
Music helps us see the significance of what the psalmist was trying to say. Joy beyond bounds can exist in our daily life when we focus on the renewal that occurs in nature and in our life when we praise God. The completion of God’s love is found in the joyous event of Christ’s birth.
How then might we prepare ourselves to receive joy? Recognize that God is everywhere. Accept that the power of God and the gift of his son have significant bearing on the fabric of our life. Realize above all that Joy is not in things, but that Joy is in Us.
Then we can truly shout with joy!