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Songs of the Season: Joy to the World

Another popular traditional Christmas tune – this one dating back to the early 19th century – for which numerous versions are available…

Sufjan Stevens, “Joy to the World”

Boney M., “Joy to the World”

Eugene Ormandy, “Joy to the World”

The Supremes, “Joy to the World” – from Merry Christmas

Aretha Franklin, “Joy to the World” – a gospelized version from Joy to the World

Joy to the World: The words are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. 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. Watts wrote the words of “Joy to the World” as a hymn glorifying Christ’s triumphant return at the end of the age, rather than a Christmas song celebrating his first coming as a babe born in a stable. Only the second half of Watts’ lyrics are still used today.

The music was adapted and arranged to Watts’ lyrics by Lowell Mason in 1839 from an older melody which was then believed to have originated from Handel, not least because the theme of the refrain (And heaven and nature sing…) appears in the orchestra opening and accompaniment of the recitative Comfort Ye from Handel’s Messiah, and the first four notes match the beginning of the choruses Lift up your heads and Glory to God from the same oratorio. However, Handel did not compose the entire tune.

As of the late 20th century, “Joy to the World” was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America. (via Wikipedia.)

In addition to all the Christmas versions, there’s also a different song with the same name, known to people around my age as the “Jeremiah was a bullfrog” song:

Three Dog Nights, “Joy to the World” – from Forrest Gump: The Soundtrack

Filed under: Song of the Day, , ,

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows

zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.

 

What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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