Behind the Christmas Hymn: Joy to the World

Joy to the WorldJoy to the World is a paraphrase of the Psalm 98. Originally the Christmas Carol was titled “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom” and first appeared in Watt’s 1719 “Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament” hymnal.

The music is believed to be adapted from parts of Handel’s Messiah by Lowell Mason. “And heaven and nature sing” appears in the opening of the recitative “Comfort Ye.”

Although parts are taken from sections of the “Messiah” the tune is called “Antioch.”

By the late 20th Century, Joy to the World was the most published Christmas hymn in North America.