Appalachia Christmas Music

Joy to the World!

Joy to the World

Joy to the World is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Who couldn’t be inspired by those hopeful peppy cheerful lines? According to the book Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas written by Ace Collins, the song came to us via two men who’s lives were separated by both space and time.

Isaac Watts (July 17, 1674)  is famous for bringing change to the songs used during worship services. He wanted worship music to be more meaningful to every day folks like you and me. Watts has been credited with writing hundreds of songs as well as inspiring other hymn writers like Charles Wesley and John Newton.

After studying  Psalms 98 Watts penned a poem titled Joy to the World. Over forty years later Lowell Mason came up with the energetic tune so many of us are familiar with, he named the tune Antioch. It was another few years before Mason put the words Watts had written with his tune.

The book, Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas points out another interesting tidbit about the song. Although Joy to the World is set firmly in the midst of our Christmas Carols it really isn’t a song about Christmas. Neither Watts nor Mason thought of the words or tune as pertaining to the Christmas season.

“In 1911, Elise Stevenson, who had scored huge chart success during the early days of records with “Shine on, Harvest Moon” and “Are You Sincere?” joined Trinity Choir for a Christmas release of “Joy to the World!” The Victor Records single climbed to number five on the charts and marked the first time that either Watts’s or Mason’s music had appeared on popular, contemporary music playlists (though “Joy to  the World!” would later inspire a rock music hit for a group called “Three Dog Night”).

It remains a mystery how this hymn became known as a Christmas carol. Inspired by Old Testament Scripture-with no words alluding to the birth of Jesus other than the phrase, “the Lord is come” – “Joy to the World!” would seem to be a song for all seasons, something to be sung in July as much as December. Nevertheless, for some reason Americans embraced “Joy to the World!” as a holiday standard. Perhaps because of its jubilant spirit, it just “felt” like a Christmas song!”

 

I love the ‘jubilant spirit’ in Pap and Paul’s version of Joy to the World. You can hear their version below.

 

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We are very grateful and humbled by all the folks who have purchased Pap and Paul’s Songs of Christmas cds-THANK YOU! It really is packed with some of the best Christmas music I have ever heard.

If you’d like to buy a copy of the Songs of Christmas go here.

Tipper

*Source: Collins, Ace. Stories behind the best-loved songs of Christmas. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001. Print.

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Tom
    December 15, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Interesting history of one of my favorite Christmas songs! When I hear this song, in my mind’s eye I see the birth of jesus. As usual, Pap and Paul are awesome! They definitely had my toes tapping as I sang along!

  • Reply
    SuzyJ
    December 14, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Thank you for sharing so much history! I can listen to music all year round, I just love it! Over the years I have collected hundreds of songs, sung in different styles. I would be honored to add Pap and Paul to my collection 🙂
    Many Blessings to you and yours!

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    December 13, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I think my favorite CHRISTmas song is probably White CHRISTmas.
    Been having unseasonably warm temps here in the NC sandhills too, and it’s a concern where it’s happening because the rain and snow in winter is directly related to drought or no drought in summer, and one thing we don’t need is another summer drought.
    Prayers everyone has a safe and blessed week.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    Luann
    December 13, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Love Ed’s comment! Always enjoy your blog Tipper, keep up the wonderful work—and Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    dolores
    December 13, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    That was great reading and information that I was not aware of. I guess I never thought to research the history of some of the Christmas Carols. Now I will listen to Paul and Pap’s version. I just know I will love it!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Tipper,
    Thanks for the story behind “Joy to the World,” I never realized that “Jesus” wasn’t even mentioned. I always thought it was a Christmas Song too. For those of us that don’t like to read much, I’m grateful for all the knowledge you freely put out on the Blind Pig and the Acorn.
    I don’t know of any singers that can sing as well as Paul and Pap…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed
    December 13, 2015 at 11:22 am

    “I just want you to look at this picture! They’ve let that youngin’ out in all that snow and wind without no coat on! And just lookee there, she don’t have no shoes on neither. IN THE SNOW! To beat all, she’s kissing a wild animal! RIGHT ON THE MOUTH! I’m a mind to call the Welfare right now! Bring me that telephone over here, Bert!”
    “BERT! ARE YOU LISTENIN TO ME?”
    “Calm down Gert. It ain’t no camera picture. Somebody drawed it. Just wait ’til I finish reading this one article and I’ll bring you the glasses.”

  • Reply
    Janice McCall
    December 13, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Tipper,
    Am I really the first to comment this morning?
    Love all the educational aspects of your blogs whether it’s about songs, gardening or just good old grannisyms. Keep the info coming.
    Merry Christmas!
    Janice

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 13, 2015 at 8:41 am

    I think it is a nice fit with Christmas. After all, the angels said “good tidings of great joy”. There was (and is) indeed joy to the world. But we miss it if we do not recognize and accept that we need a redemption. There are many words that come to mind to describe Christmas but redemption must surely be one. Anyway, that’s my take.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 13, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Thank you for writing about the history of this song. One of my favorites

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 13, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Thank you for writing about the history of this song. One of my favorites

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 13, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Thank you for writing about the history of this song. One of my favorites

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 13, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Thank you for writing about the history of this song. One of my favorites

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    December 13, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Tipper: Being up early has its rewards! YOUR POST! After writing Christmas Cards yesterday, til I ran out of cards, today I plan to just enjoy your beautiful music! Thanks for sharing these favorite songs!
    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
    Eva Nell

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