“Joy to the World” is one of our most famous Christmas songs. Isaac Watts wrote the words to this song in 1719, based roughly on the text from Psalm 98.
Its original title was “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.” In 1839, Lowell Mason set the words to the tune, “Antioch,” and the song as we know it was born.
The first verse of this song states: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her King; let ev’ry heart prepare him room,” In this first verse, Watts lays out, of course, one of the primary necessities of the Christian life, which is, to make room in our life for Jesus Christ so that he may rule over us and be Lord of our life. It is the knowledge of Jesus Christ that makes this season so joyful for Christians everywhere. We know the certainty of salvation through Jesus Christ. It also explains the significance that we put on trying to reach others with the good news of Jesus Christ.
But the Christmas season is not just about celebration. It is also, in Advent, supposed to be a season of introspection. Watt brings this out in the third verse when he states, “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; he comes to make his blessings flow.”
To really celebrate all that the Christmas season should be, it is not enough to only celebrate what we have received, but also to give thought to what Christ would have us become. To make room in our hearts for Christ is also to be called to change our lives to confront and deal with the sin that is so much part of our makeup.
“No more let sins and sorrows grow” is an admonition not just to the new Christian, but to all Christians to remember that to live out the calling we have received is to be in a constant state of renewal, seeking every day to live the life God has called us to through Jesus Christ.
So, this Christmas season, celebrate with great joy the gift of life you have received from God, but also take a moment to consider what you need to do to weed out sins and thorns from your life, and in so doing, become the person God has called you to be.