The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “JOY TO THE WORLD!”

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“Joy to the World”

 

One of the most famous of all Christmas Carols, “Joy to the World,” was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and Lowell Mason (1792-1872). The text written by Watts is considered to be one of the most joyous Christmas carols ever written. It is joyous not in the sense of amusement, but in the serious comprehension of what Christ’s nativity means to all men. Isaac Watts has been called the father of English hymnody and the bard (poet) of Southhampton. Watts is often compared to Charles Wesley for his talent as a hymnist and his contributions to hymnody.

Isaac Watts was the oldest of nine children of a Southampton clothier. His father was a Nonconformist, which means he would not accept the established Church of England.

When Isaac was born in 1674, his father was in jail for his approval of Nonconformist thought. Although young Isaac had a great deal of respect for his father’s convictions, he often thought of his mother’s days of nursing her children at the entrance to the jail. The boy Isaac showed his brilliance at a very young age. He learned Latin by age four, Greek at age nine, French at eleven, and Hebrew at thirteen. Many of the well-to-do citizens offered to educate him at Oxford or Cambridge, which would have prepared him for the Anglican ministry. Isaac would have none of it and at age sixteen traveled to London to continue his education at a prominent Nonconformist academy. After graduation in 1694, he spent two years at home where he began his hymn writing. (Click to Article)

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