Rooted in Christ

Repeat the Sounding Joy

By faith we celebrate the resounding victory of our God and we re-sound His praises across the land.

My grandkids have made birthday cards for me where they use the letters of my name to create a sweet message. Isaac Watts took the same approach with his own name. 

“I”—I am a vile, polluted lump of earth

“S”—So I’ve continued ever since my birth

“A”—Although Jehovah, grace doth daily give me

“A”—As sure this monster, Satan, will deceive me

“C”—Come therefore, Lord, from Satan’s claws relieve me

“W”—Wash me in Thy blood, O Christ

“A”—And grace divine impart

“T”—Then search and try the corners of my heart

“T”—That I in all things may be fit to do

“S”—Service to Thee, and Thy praise too. 

Isaac Watts was 8-years old when he wrote that.* 

When we recognize our depravity and that we deserve only the wrath of God, and when we realize we are impotent to orchestrate our own salvation, and when we behold salvation as an accomplishment of Christ and gift of God, and when we understand the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit in the new birth to enable us to embrace this gift, our joy is full. 

The second stanza of “Joy to the World” begins on the same note of joy as did the first. 

Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns:

Let men their songs employ;

While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains

Repeat the sounding joy. 

There is no volume control on this hymn. It cannot be sung in hushed tones. It is projected through the amplifier of the heart tuned to sing God’s praise. At the appearance of God the Savior and the prospect of remedy from the curse of sin, the whole of creation joins in joyful chorus. 

Angels appearing to shepherds in the Judean countryside cast this note of joy that would ripple across the globe and reverberate throughout the ages.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:10–14) 

This King whose birth is recognized and celebrated is the Savior. His kingdom would be a redemptive kingdom, bringing life from death. The darkness of sin would be dispelled. His kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom, while the kingdom of this fallen world will perish. All those who are His will reign with Him forever and ever. 

The hymn enjoins us to “repeat the sounding joy.” Here we want to remember the psalm on which the carol is based. 

Psalm 98:2–4

    The LORD has made known His salvation;

            His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.

    He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;

            All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

    Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth;

            Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. 

By faith we celebrate the resounding victory of our God and we re-sound His praises across the land.

Reflect and respond in prayer to the biblical truths of this stanza of “Joy to the World.”

Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns:

Let men their songs employ;

While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains

Repeat the sounding joy. 

This Christmas point your friends to the good news of great joy with the gospel booklet, God’s Good News, available as a free PDF download or for purchase. 

*from Osbeck, K. W. (1985). 101 more hymn stories. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications

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Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale