Joy to the world!


The 18th century poet Isaac Watts is one of the most prolific and celebrated writers of Christian hymns. His popular hymn ‘Joy to the World’ is sung all over the world every Christmas. Yet Watts did not intend to create a Christmas carol when he wrote these words. ‘Joy to the World’ is simply a hymn based on the second part of Psalm 98, where the psalmist calls on all creation to shout for joy at the coming of the Lord. It is a hymn for all seasons. So let’s look now at this psalm, which encourages us to let our voices ring out with jubilant praise to the LORD our King!

Read Psalm 98:1-3



  • What reasons does the psalmist give for praising the LORD with a new song (v 1)?
  • What does God’s salvation show us about his character and power:
  • Verse 3 speaks of God’s love and faithfulness to Israel. How has God demonstrated his love and faithfulness to us (Romans 5:8)?

Many believe that these verses are recalling the time God rescued his people from their slavery in Egypt. This rescue was, of course, foreshadowing an even greater rescue that came about when Jesus died on the cross. In this rescue, God saved us from our slavery to sin and brought us into his kingdom of light. See Colossians 1:13-14. God has done such marvellous things for us, there are times when we just can’t help bursting into song!

Read Psalm 98:4-6



  • What is the mood described in these verses?
  • What should be the chief motive that drives all our music-making (vs 4 and 6)?

When you read God’s word do you ever find yourself breaking into song? The psalmist tells us to worship the LORD with our voices – with joyful shouts and with song. We are to worship him with a variety of instruments. But this is not performance; this is not entertainment; this is not something we manufacture; this is what happens when God’s people truly focus on the LO RD their King, and all that he has done for them.

Read Psalm 98:7-9



  • Creation now joins in the song. Why are the sea, the rivers and the mountains all singing for joy (vs 9)?
  • Does singing with joy about God’s judgement seem strange to you? Read Romans 8:18-21. How will all creation act when God comes to judge the world?

Psalm 98 urges us to sing a new song, for the LORD has done marvellous things. However, this is not a command to introduce new songs to our services each week. It simply means that all our singing should resound with freshness and joy. This is because we have an ever-deepening appreciation of all God has done, is doing, and will do for us.


Let’s sing!

Enjoy some songs on this theme – some may even be new to you! Sing Unto the Lord (Shane & Shane); O sing a New Song to the Lord (Psalm 98); Joy to the World (Isaac Watts – this version live from ‘The Chosen’).