to the World!
Kenneth W. Osbeck
-- As one of the most joyous of all Christmas hymns, this carol omits references
to shepherds, angelic choruses, and wise men. It emphasizes instead the reverent
but ecstatic joy that Christ's birth brought to humanity. For centuries hearts
had yearned for God to reveal Himself personally. At last it happened as "the
Word became flesh and dwelt among us." The entire Advent season should be filled
with solemn rejoicing as we contemplate anew God's great gift, providing the means
whereby sinful people might live eternally.
to the World" is a paraphrase of the last part of Psalm 98:
a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and
sing praise. . . . Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together
before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he
judge the world, and the people with equity (vv. 4-9).
it was originally a song of rejoicing for Jehovah's protection of His chosen people
and the anticipation of the time when He would be the God of the whole earth,
this psalm was intended by Watts to be a New Testament expression of praise. It
exalts the salvation that began when God became incarnate as the Babe of Bethlehem
who was destined to remove the curse of Adam's fall. The text was originally titled
"The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom" when it first appeared in a hymnal of 1719
by Isaac Watts. The music for this popular carol is thought to have been adapted
by Lowell Mason, an American church musician, from some of the phrases used in
parts of George Frederick Handel's beloved oratorio, The Messiah, first performed
in 1742. Through the combined talents of an English literary genius of the eighteenth
century, a German-born musical giant from the same period, and a nineteenth century
American choir director and educator, another great hymn was born.
to the world! the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
heart prepare Him room, and heav'n and nature sing.
to the earth! the Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ,
and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy.
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,
makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His
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