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Creation: Joy to the World

Author: Hannah Moyse, 17 December 2020

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‘Joy to the World’ is a song we often sing at Christmas time.

Even though it doesn’t explicitly reference the nativity story, it does talk about nature and creation rejoicing when the Earth ‘receives her King’ (that is, receives Jesus).

The song is actually inspired by the Psalms and Genesis 3.17–18. It tells us how even the natural world is full of joy at Christ’s coming – ‘fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains’ echo the joy of the Lord, like they do in Psalm 98.7–9 and Psalm 96.11–12. And of course, all this is a reflection of how the biblical story starts: God created the natural world in all its beauty, which you can read about in Genesis chapters 1 and 2.

However, the carol also refers to the curse that appears in Genesis 3 as a result of Adam and Eve’s wrongdoing. In Genesis 3.17–18, the ‘ground is cursed’ because the first humans disobeyed God. But ‘Joy to the World’ implores, ‘No more let sins and sorrows grow / nor thorns infest the ground‘; in other words, because of Jesus’ coming, even the ground is freed and creation rejoices.

The invitation to worship Jesus together with creation itself draws us together by making us feel at one with nature. It points us back to the start of the big story of the Bible in order to show us how globally important the story of Jesus is – and our place in it.

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