The lord is come?

Did you ever think about why this classic hymn uses “Joy is Come!” Rather than Joy has come?”  It isn’t just poetry.

The old-time hymn writers are actually pointing to something deep within our Christian consciousness.  Joy, in the Gospel stories, is about the fulfillment of a forward-looking promise.

During the Advent Sundays leading to Christmas, we learn that Angel Gabriel encourages Mary to “Rejoice!” at a baby about to be. 

The Lord Is Come?

The wombs of Elizabeth and Mary – not yet fully formed – leap with Joy – when they encounter one another and dream of a better future, the long expected Messiah.  He is coming! ­­­

The Lord Is Come?

  • For all of us who work together at Episcopal Relief & Development carrying Joy to a hurting world, we celebrate Christmas by looking through the experience of Bethlehem, with its census for tax collection, and oppressive regimes, with its journeys on donkeys, dreams of saviors and birthing experiences amongst the mice of a manger. 

The Lord Is Come?

We honor the experience of that baby by seeing where He may be again entering the world today, just as vulnerable yet sanctified as He has always been: in the displacement camps of Syria or South Sudan, with the garbage pickers in Brazil, in the trailer homes of Arkansas.

 What a privilege to follow the star through our donations, our flights, our journeys, our churches and our people to the stable, the tent, the cave, the hut!  Again and again, the trumpets compel us to leap in delight and thanksgiving at the fulfillment of all hope.


The Lord Is Come?


The Lord Is Come?

Abagail Nelson is Sr. Vice President for Programs with Episcopal Relief & Development.  

Images: Top, The Annunciation by Jim Timmons. Middle 1, The Visitation by James B. Janknegt. Middle 2, Entry of Christ into Jerusalem by Wilhelm Morgner. Last, Star of Bethlehem by Zelda Fitzgerald. 

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The Lord Is Come?

My Lord Has Come

The Lord Is Come?

Scored for: SATB or SSAA a cappella
Level: Easy
Duration: 3 mins 30

Other Info: The original SATB version of My Lord Has Come was written in 2010 and included in Carols For Choirs 5 published by Oxford University Press.

 This heartfelt setting of words by the composer begins with a pianissimo drone over which the sopranos introduce the expressive melody.

With lush harmonies, moments of dynamic intensity, and an overriding sense of awe, it would make an ideal centrepiece for a Christmas or Epiphany concert or service. My Lord Has Come has been recorded by Tenebrae on their album The Call of Wisdom.

“This very intense, dramatic piece not only showed off the choir – especially the sopranos – at its best but was a demonstration of how a 21st century composer can respond to the Christmas story in a way which respects tradition whilst sounding totally fresh.”  Melanie Eskenazi,, 2014

Shepherds, called by angels, called by love and angels:
No place for them but a stable.
My Lord has come.
Sages, searching for stars, searching for love in heaven;
No place for them but a stable.

My Lord has come.
His love will hold me, his love will cherish me, love will cradle me.
Lead me, lead me to see him, sages and shepherds and angels;
No place for me but a stable.
My Lord has come.

Available to purchase from good music shops. My Lord Has Come is published by Oxford University Press and is available as an SATB or SSAA version.

Buy directly from Oxford University Press (SSAA)

Buy directly from Oxford University Press (SATB)

Joy to the World! The Lord is Come

Wednesday Evening

December 29, 2004

Psalm 98

“Joy to The World”

Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III

Now, if you have your Bibles, I'd invite you to turn with me to Psalm 98, and if you do not have this handout–everybody have this handout? If you’ll keep that handout in hand, it's got the words to Joy to The World on it, so you won't have to balance both your hymnal and your Bible.

This is the final of our “Songs of Christmas” series, and it has been a joy and a challenge to do–although I’ll tell you, for me it's just been mostly pure joy! Derek, for whatever reason, took the harder hymns and carols for himself, and he gave me really good ones, so I have enjoyed every line of studying through these well-known and well-loved carols. And Joy to The World, as you already know, is Isaac Watts’ rendering of Psalm 98.

Isaac Watts–in his own day most people sang psalms in their worship services, and in England where he grew up, he didn't think that the metrical psalms that had been arranged for singing were very good.

He didn't think their poetry was very good; he didn't think they’d been set to very good tunes; and so he set about the task of trying to do a better job of rendering those psalms, and he produced a book of songs to sing in worship.

And this rendering of Psalm 98 was one of those that he produced in his book of psalms.

We generally only sing the second half of the hymn. You’ll notice on the right hand side of the page, Isaac Watts’ Psalm 98, but the first part of it, which corresponds to verses 1 through 3 of Psalm 98, we almost never sing.

In fact, I'd bet there are some people here tonight who are looking for the very first time at Isaac Watts’ words for those first three stanzas. We know those final four stanzas pretty well–we've been singing them, most of us, almost all our lives.

But he wrote an arrangement of this whole psalm in light of the realities of the coming of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 98 is a psalm about the coming of the Lord. Now, because it's in the Old Testament, that doesn't tell you whether it's about the first coming or the second coming.

In fact, it's the New Testament writers who have to help us understand whether the Old Testament writers were talking about the first coming or the second coming, or both, in different parts of the Old Testament.

Well, this is an Old Testament psalm about the coming of the Lord, and in light of the New Testament reality of Jesus Christ we see that it is indeed about Jesus’ coming.

When Watts arranged this new covenant rendering of Psalm 98, had in mind primarily Jesus’ second coming.

The Advent season in churches that celebrate the church calendar not only entails the celebration of the first coming of Christ–His incarnation, His birth–but also His second coming — His coming again to save and to judge.

See also:  How not to be scammed by internet claims

And Watts viewed Psalm 98 primarily as a psalm about His second coming, but it has become associated over the last hundred years or so with Christmas as well as the second coming, and so we sing it almost every Christmas. It's a beautiful psalm, and a beautiful arrangement of Psalm 98.

Joy to the World

1719 Christmas hymn by Isaac Watts
This article is about the Christmas carol. For other uses, see Joy to the World (disambiguation).

Joy to the WorldGenreChristmas carolWritten1719TextIsaac WattsBased onPsalms 98:4Meter8.6.8.6 (C.M.

)Melody”Antioch” by George Frideric Handel, arranged by Lowell Mason

Joy to the World” is a popular Christmas carol[1] with words by Isaac Watts.

As of the late 20th century, “Joy to the World” was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America.[1]


The words of the hymn are by English writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98, 96:11–12 and Genesis 3:17–18. The song was first published in 1719 in Watts' collection The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship. The paraphrase is Watts' Christological interpretation.

Consequently, he does not emphasize with equal weight the various themes of Psalm 98. In first and second stanzas, Watts writes of heaven and earth rejoicing at the coming of the King. An interlude that depends more on Watts' interpretation than the psalm text, stanza three speaks of Christ's blessings extending victoriously over the realm of sin.

The cheerful repetition of the non-psalm phrase “far as the curse is found” has caused this stanza to be omitted from some hymnals. But the line makes joyful sense when understood from the New Testament eyes through which Watts interprets the psalm. Stanza four celebrates Christ's rule over the nations.

“[2] The nations are called to celebrate because God's faithfulness to the house of Israel has brought salvation to the world.[3]


Watts' 1719 preface says the verses “…are fitted to the Tunes of the Old PSALM-BOOK” and includes the instruction “sing all entitled COMMON METER”.[4] In the late 1700s “Joy to the World” was printed together with music several times, however, the tunes did not resemble and were not related to the one commonly used today.[5]

The tune usually used today is from an 1848 edition by Lowell Mason for The National Psalmist (Boston, 1848).[6] Mason was by that time an accomplished and well-known composer and arranger, having composed tunes such as “Bethany”, which was used for the hymn Nearer My God to Thee.

Mason's 1848 publication of the current tune was the fourth version to have been published. The first, published in his 1836 book Occasional Psalm and Hymn Tunes, featured the present day tune (in a different arrangement) with the present-day lyrics; the first such publication to do so.

The name of this tune was given as “Antioch”, and was attributed as being “From Handel”.[7] A very similar arrangement of the tune to today's arrangement, and also with the present-day lyrics, was published in Mason's 1839 book The Modern Psalmist.

It was also titled “Antioch” and attributed to Handel.[8]

Musically, the first four notes of “Joy to the World” are the same as the first four in the chorus “Lift up your heads” from Handel's Messiah (premiered 1742), and, in the third line, the same as found in another Messiah piece: the arioso, “Comfort ye”.

Consequently, and with Mason's attribution to Handel, there has long been speculation over how much a part Handel's Messiah had in “Joy to the World”.[9] It is known Mason was a great admirer and scholar of Handel's music, and had in fact became president of the Boston Handel and Haydn Society in 1827[10] and was also an editor for them.

[11] However, resemblances between Messiah and “Joy to the World”, have been dismissed as 'chance resemblance' by Handel scholars today.[12]

Moreover, several tunes have been found from the early 1830s closely resembling that of “Antioch”, the earliest of which was published in 1832 under the title “Comfort” (possibly as a nod to Handel's “Comfort ye”).

[13] This would make it at least four years older than Mason's first publication of “Antioch”. Other publications from the early 1830s further suggest the tune may have been around for some time before Mason published his arrangement.

Thomas Hawkes published the “Comfort” tune in 1833 in his Collection of Tunes. In it, the attribution was given simply as “Author Unknown”, suggesting it may have been older.

[14][15] A 1986 article by John Wilson also showed “Antioch”'s close resemblance to an 1833 publication of “Comfort” and its associated Wesley hymn “O Joyful Sound”.[16]

Joy to the World

Choral performance of “Joy to the World” by United States Army Chorus

Problems playing this file? See media help.

A version by the Trinity Choir was very popular in 1911.[17] As of the late 20th century, “Joy to the World” was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America.[1]


The text appears thus in The Psalms of David: imitated in the Language of the New Testament, and apply'd to the Christian State and Worship (London 1719):[18]

Psalm XCVIII. Second Part.
The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom

Joy to the World; the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields & floods, rocks, hills & plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.

In the Latter-day Saint hymnal, the refrain in the first verse is “And Saints and Angels Sing” (see Joy to the World (Phelps)).


  1. ^ a b c It was published in 1,387 hymnals in North America before 1979, as recorded in the Dictionary of North American Hymnology. Top 20 Christmas hymns cited at
  2. ^ Joy to the world! the Lord is come! at
  3. ^ Joy to the World!, Worship Leader magazine (archive.

    org, 18 July 2011)

  4. ^ Watts 1719, p. xxxii. it is not clear whether “Old Psalm-book” refers to Playford's 1677 publication or some other.
  5. ^ For example to the tune WARSAW in Samuel Holyoke's Harmonia Americana, 1791 (page 87)
  6. ^ Celebrate, Rejoice and Sing: Christmas Music in America, Roger L.

    Hall, PineTree Press, 2003, p 8; see also > for usage of ANTIOCH and other tunes.

  7. ^ Mason, Lowell. Occasional Psalm and Hymn Tunes, 1836, p. 70.,
  8. ^ Mason, Lowell. The Modern Psalmist, 1839, p. 144.,
  9. ^ Keyte and Parrott, eds., The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)
  10. ^ Pemberton, CA (1971), Lowell Mason: His life and work (doctoral dissertation), ProQuest Dissertations & Theses 7128272
  11. ^ Mason, Lowell. The Modern Psalmist, 1839, p. 144.,
  12. ^ The Cambridge Handel Encyclopedia, Annette Landgraf, David Vickers, Cambridge University Press, 26 November 2009. “Joy to the World” entry by Nicholas Temperley
  13. ^ Charles Rider, Psalmodia Britannica, vol. 4 (ca. 1831), no. 87, p. 949
  14. ^ Thomas Hawkes, Collection of Tunes (Watchet: Thomas Whitehorn, 1833)
  15. ^ Fenner, Chris. “Joy to the World with ANTIOCH (COMFORT)”., 2019,
  16. ^ The Origins of the Tune “Antioch”, Bulletin No. 166 of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland; a summary is given in The Oxford Book of Carols 1994, p.273
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 422. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  18. ^ The Psalms of David : imitated in the Language of the New Testament, and apply'd to the Christian State and Worship (London 1719)

External links

  • United States portal
  • Music portal
  • Christianity portal
  • Free sheet music “Joy to the World” of “Joy to the World” for SATB from
  • “Joy to the World” – Early New England Christmas Carol
  • “Joy to the World” played on a Hammond Organ

Joy to the World: The Lord is Come

Let’s turn together to Revelation chapter 1. That can be found on page 1028 in the pew Bibles. And tonight, we are beginning a four week Christmas sermon series from the book of Revelation and so we’ll start in chapter 1.

And as you turn there, let’s also, if you would look with me at the chart that’s found in your bulletin under the Evening Guide, the chart about the last days that’s in our bulletin.

Because what says Christmas like an eschatology chart! This chart, it’s from the ESV Study Bible in the Introduction to the New Testament, but it’s from Geerhardus Vos, a seminary professor at Princeton in the late 19th century and early 20th century. I’ve already heard from Caroline that the picture is confusing, so we’ll do our best with what’s here! 

But what it basically is, it’s two parallel lines. And one line is this present age and the line above it is the age to come. And the age to come broke into this present age at the time of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. That’s symbolized or indicated by the cross. But the age to come will not be fully realized until the return of Christ.

And you see the return of Christ with the line coming down from the top. And everything in between the cross and Christ’s return are known as the last days. We are living in the last days. Now is the last days. So Revelation, the book of Revelation helps us to live in the last days.

In a sense, the book of Revelation is looking down from the right side of that line on the bottom picture, looking down from the right side and, in light of Christ’s return, helping us to live in our present days with our present concerns and the issues that are going on in our circumstances around us with the perspective of Christ’s return.

Well we’re going to look at Christmas from that same perspective over the next few weeks. To view Christmas, to view Christ’s birth not as it was promised in the Old Testament, not from the shadow of the cross as the Gospel writers present it to us, but from the spotlight, the spotlight of Christ’s return and what that means for the Christmas message.

What that means is that there is an urgency to hear this message. There’s an urgency to fully embrace Christ and to rejoice in Him.

So with that in mind, we’ll read from Revelation chapter 1, 1 to 8. We’re going to focus, actually, on the second part of verse 5 onto verse 7. We’ll see four things tonight. One is that the Lord has come, the Lord has come for salvation, the Lord will come in glory, and the Lord will come for judgment. So with that in mind, let’s pray and read God’s Word.

Father, we thank You for Your Word. We thank You for the revelation of Jesus Christ in all of His humility and in all of His glory. We thank You for the work of Christ on the cross and for His resurrection, for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

As we come to the book of Revelation, we find many things that are unknown to us and maybe mysterious, and yet You have given us Your Spirit.

You have promised to illumine Your Word to us, and so we ask that Your Spirit would do that work tonight, that we would see Christ and that we would grow in our love for Him. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revelation 1:

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.

He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.

The Lord Has Come

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” He has come. He has come, who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father. And He is coming, with the clouds.

And every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him.

You see, these verses, the second part of verse 5 to verse 7, have in view both Christ’s first appearing over 2,000 years ago and also His future return on the last day. And the first is a doxology. It’s, “To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.

” The second is a proclamation. “Behold, He is coming.” And then both are followed by an, “Amen.” It is true. This is certain. You can stake everything on what is written in these few verses. This is the heart of the Christian’s hope. 

Joy to the world! the Lord is come!

Scripture References:
st. 1-3 = Ps. 98
st. 2 = Ps. 96:11-12

st. 3 = Gen. 3:17-18

Isaac Watts (PHH 155) wrote this text as a paraphrase of Psalm 98. He published it in his Psalms of David Imitated (1719) under the heading “The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom.” The paraphrase is Watts' Christological interpretation.

Consequently, he does not emphasize with equal weight the various themes of Psalm 98. In stanzas 1 and 2 Watts writes of heaven and earth rejoicing at the coming of the king.

An interlude that depends more on Watts' interpretation than the psalm text, stanza 3 speaks of Christ's blessings extending victoriously over the realm of sin. The cheerful repetition of the non-psalm phrase “far as the curse is found” has caused this stanza to be omitted from some hymnals.

But the line makes joyful sense when understood from the New Testament eyes through which Watts interprets the psalm. Stanza 4 celebrates Christ's rule over the nations.

Liturgical Use
Christmas Day, but also at any other time of year in relation to Psalm 98. Raised eyebrows at singing “Joy to the World!” in July will lower as soon as the relationship to Psalm 98 becomes clear.

–Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Joy to the world, the Lord is come [nigh]. I. Watts. [Ps. xcviii.] First published in his Psalms of David, &c, 1719, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines, as the 2nd pt. of his version of Psalm 98. T.

Cotterill gave, in the first edition of his Selection, 1810, a much altered version of text, which was repeated in the authorized edition of 1820 with the repetition of stanza i. as stanza v. This arrangement is known by st. ii., which reads, “Ye saints, rejoice, the Saviour reigns,” &c.

Bickersteth's arrangement in his Christian Psalmody, 1833, also in 5 stanzas; but the added stanza (iii.) is from Watts's version of the first part of the same Psalm. Both of these texts have been repeated in later collections.

In addition there are also the following: (1) “The Lord is come; let heaven rejoice,” in Hall's Mitre Hymn Book, 1836; and (2) “Joy to the world, the Lord is nigh,” in the Irvingite Hymns for the Use of the Churches, 1864.

In its various forms, but principally in the original, it is in use in most English-speaking countries. It has also been translated into several languages, including Latin, in E. Bingham's Hymnologia Christiana Latina, 1870, “Laetitia in mundo! Dominus nam venit Iesus!”

–John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)

The Lord is Come

December 10, 2013 by wholelifeworship

At Christmas, you get a dozen different versions of the same song. Some songs have the same words with different melodies. Other songs have the same melodies but different words.

And some songs have words that are mostly the same, but with some slight variations.

It makes it tough for us worship leaders, who have to make the decision on which version that will work best for the congregation.

One of those songs is “Joy to the World.” In the very first line there is a variation. Some versions go, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” Older versions have, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” I have usually preferred “has” over “is” because it makes more sense in modern English. We just don’t use the words “is” and “come” together anymore.

However, I’ve changed my stance on this. I prefer the old “is come,” now. And the reason is more theological than it is grammatical.

The coming of the Lord is not just a past event. Certainly, Jesus Christ came historically over 2,000 years ago. But we also anticipate another coming of Jesus Christ in the future – the Second Coming. So we can also sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is coming.” The version of “has come” only tells part of the story.

But there is also the sense that Jesus is come, in the present sense. And that’s what I want to focus on today. Jesus continually comes into our lives, spiritually, as we open our hearts – day by day, moment by moment – to Him. In fact, it is the “ongoing” sense of “is come” that aptly describes the Whole Life Worship process.

Every time we notice the Lord at work around us, the Lord is come. Every time we turn to Him in prayer, the Lord is come. Every time we feel His presence, the Lord is come.

Every time we surrender ourselves to His way and His will, the Lord is come. Every time we choose to love in the power of God, the Lord is come.

The more we become aware of the Lord in our everyday ordinary lives, the Lord is come.

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