Hymn #132: Joy to the World!

            Isaac Watts (1674-1748) created this text by “Christianizing” the last five lines of Psalm 98.  The original poem was entitled “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom” in Watts’s Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (1719).

           Isaac Watts first served the Protestant Church as assistant pastor under Isaac Chauncy at Mark Lane Independent (Congregational) Church, in London, England, where he preached his first sermon in 1699.  Chauncy was the son of the president of Harvard College, Massachusetts.

            Lowell Mason (1792-1872) is credited as the composer of the hymn ANTIOCH, as he first published it in a hymnal in 1836, marked “Arr. From Handel.”  He or another composer or arranger utilized melodic fragments from George F. Handel’s (1685-1759) Messiah in the tune.

            ANTIOCH was the Syrian city where the disciples of Jesus were first called Christians, according to the book of Acts.  Although closely associated with this text in the United States, the melody is not used with these words in English hymnals.