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Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Morning Devo - Song Stories: Joy to the World


I really love the story behind this song. Actually, I love the story behind the writer. Joy to the World was only one of the hundreds of songs Isaac Watts wrote. He began writing in his teen years because his father challenged him. And the reason his father challenged him? Isaac had been complaining that the old songs sounded dead when the equally unenthused-looking congregation sang them. Ummmm--sound familiar? And this wasn't last year, it was back in the late 1600s!

So he wrote a peppier song, Behold the Glories of the Lamb, and the congregation loved it. He didn't write Joy to the World until 1719--and it wasn't really intended as a Christmas song, but rather as a "second coming" song based on Psalm 98. Next time you sing it, maybe think about it in those terms. Oh--and although Isaac Watts wrote the lyrics, the music was from one of Handel's compositions.

Now, Isaac was anything but good-looking. Five feet tall, a large head, and skinny frame. However, he had to be a genius. He began learning Latin at age four, Greek at nine, French at eleven, and Hebrew at thirteen. A physician would have sent him to seminary to become an Anglican priest, but he chose instead to go to a nonconformist school. He finished his studies at age twenty, and when he was twenty-eight he became the pastor of London's Mark Lane Independent (i.e. Congregational) Chapel.

It wasn't long, though, before he began experiencing psychiatric problems, and he resigned ten years later. I couldn't find anything that elaborated on what his mental problems were, but I wonder if maybe he would have been diagnosed in these times as bi-polar or manic depressive. Whatever it was seemed to have been exacerbated by the way he drove himself. He wrote hundreds of hymns, some textbooks, and sermons by the score.

Okay, I know you've been waiting for it--listen HERE!

Lord, I love that You have given so many talents to so many people. Without songs, what would our church services be? Without preachers? Without people who create beauty in all its forms, our lives would be pretty dull. Thanks, Lord.