To our almighty Maker God,
New honours be addressed;
His great salvation shines abroad,
And makes the nations blessed.
Recognize that? It's the first verse of that classic Christmas carol, Joy to the World. As it was originally written, anyway.
He spake the word to Abraham first;
His truth fulfills his grace,
The Gentiles make his name their trust,
And learn his righteousness.
The song mirrors Psalm 98 closely, though it's not direct quoting. Isaac Watts, the writer, was considered scandalous in his day (it was published first in 1719) for daring to interpret Scripture through music. Even the dissenters, who were already considered rebellious for splitting from the Church of England, only sang word for word Psalms in their services. This song must have made more than a few of them shift in their pews.
Let the whole earth his love proclaim,
With all her different tongues;
And spread the honours of his name,
In melody and songs.
Watts viewed this Psalm in light of Jesus' eventual return to earth to reign as King, not only as proclamation of His first coming (to Bethlehem, away in a manger, no crib for a bed...) Funny how a song so liberal and at the cutting edge of theology in its day turned into a fundamental classic of Christmas. (Of course, now it's practically archaic and too boring for Pandora to play much on seasonal radio.)
Joy to the world - the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King:
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing.
It's freeing, really. Here's a classic Christmas carol we have every right to sing the rest of the year. I can't say that about all the traditions. After all, friends would look at you funny if you stuck a pine tree with lights in the middle of your living room in July. There's hardly any point to doing it in December in the first place, other than that it's tradition, and everyone else is doing it, and its ambiance makes sitting near it with a mug of spiced cider while you shop online rather jolly...
Joy to the earth - the Saviour reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and 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.
Seems like it would be just as appropriate to sing while gardening, or during a thunderstorm, or when out for a walk in the Spring.
He rules the world with truth and grace;
And makes the nations prove,
The glories of his righteousness,
And wonders of his love.
He was God in the year 1 (or whenever that first Christmas exactly was). He was God in the year 1719. In 2012 - He is God still. And all next year He will be too. Maybe some rainy afternoon in July I'll whip up a batch of eggnog, dig an ugly Christmas sweater out of storage, and sing Joy to the world at the top of my lungs (the kids are learning to ignore me.)
Why? Because the Lord IS come.
And that is worth singing about. With or without twinkly lights.