Joy to the World – a biblical worldview for your family

Posted on December 3, 2013 · Posted in Gospel, Holidays, Worldview

Worldview can be an intimidating topic to discuss, let alone teach to your children.  But this does not have to be the case. A biblical worldview is best presented by concepts that are clearly and easily grasped. Such is the case with the Christmas carol, “Joy to the World.” Let’s look at each of the hymn’s four verses and see how they combine to offer a compelling worldview that brings honor to God. The first verse focuses on the blessing that Jesus Christ has come to be our King.

Isaac Watts’ Christmas carol, is one of the most beloved of all the Christmas hymns. The words to this hymn (at least the first verse), are known throughout the world. This hymn is a call to joy. But what is there to be joyful about?

For Watts, the joy is based upon the Advent of Jesus Christ. The King of Creation was born as a baby, to live a life that would accomplish the rescue of multitudes of lost souls. The only fitting response is joyful submission to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Apart from the rule of Christ, man is hopelessly lost, a slave to his own misguided and failed attempts at self-atonement. Watts’ carol brims with joy, and a call to bow before the one, true King. See how this plays out in the first verse:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! 

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And Heaven and nature sing…

“Joy to the World” is based on Psalm 98. The four verses of the hymn continuously intersect with the truths proclaimed in the Psalm. You can see this by comparing verses 4-7 with the carol’s first verse.

4 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,

burst into jubilant song with music;

5 make music to the LORD with the harp,

with the harp and the sound of singing,

6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—

shout for joy before the LORD, the King.

7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,

the world, and all who live in it.

“Joy to the World” does shout for joy! The cursed creation receives her King with song. Our first parents doubted God and brought sin and God’s curse to all creation. Despite all of the brightly colored distractions of an ungodly culture  there ultimately is no hope, no reason for joy without Christ.

Why “Joy to the World”? Because now there is hope; there is a good and powerful King who will set all things right! Watts’ hymn may be likened to a first primer on embracing a biblical worldview. Yes, the world is a mess, a mess to which each human who has ever lived, save one, has contributed. But the Lord has come! In response to the cynicism of modern culture, we can declare the truth:  Joy to the World!  

This is a first step to building a biblical worldview. In the next few posts we will look at the remaining verses of this great hymn.

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.