Christmas Eve Joy

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people (Luke 2:10, NIV).

As the senior pastor of a church, Christmas Eve was my favorite service of the entire year.

During the last years of my tenure as a pastor, our church had an amazing worship leader who ended the service with Chris Tomlin’s version of Joy to the World.  

When I sang this song, I imagined that I was with the shepherds on the hillside when the angels broke out in chorus after announcing the birth of Jesus.

The hymn, Joy to the World, was published as a poem by Isaac Watts in a book entitled The Psalms of David: Imitated in the Language of the New Testament and Applied to the Christian State and Worship.

Amazing that Watts could get a book published with this title and that his composition, buried in a book about Psalms, even became popular. The song was based on Psalm 98, written as a poem, not a song, and focused on the second coming of Jesus and not angels, shepherds, and a manger. 

The Joy to the World that we sing today is a melody composed by Lowell Mason in 1836. Today, Joy to the World is the most popular and most recorded Christmas hymn.

Back to Chris Tomlin and why I love his version. He adds as a chorus, not included in other versions of the song …

Joy. Unspeakable joy

An overflowing well

No tongue can tell

Joy. Unspeakable joy

Rises in my soul

Never lets me go!

With a packed sanctuary on Christmas Eve – a service having included other hymns, candle-lighting, and my utterly amazing Christmas Eve sermon – at the end, singing Chris Tomlin’s version of Joy to the World, led by a great worship leader, and a large crowd … 

Well, I felt like going straight to heaven.

Not only my favorite church service of the year but my favorite moment of each year!

I do enjoy Christmas day. 

I cook steaks on Christmas Day, and if I don’t burn the steaks, enjoy eating them with my family. I love to watch the grandkids open presents as they sink into an ever-enlarging pile of ripped wrapping paper until you can see paper moving but no grandchildren. 

I like to give my wife gifts and, every year, try to surprise her with something unexpected.

I love receiving gifts. (For those of you who missed getting me a Christmas gift, my birthday is only a few weeks away, on January 30th.)

But Chris Tomlin’s song Joy to the World sticks with me. Even though it is a Christmas hymn, when I need joy, I find it in my memory throughout the year during moments of frustration or inadequacy.

Joy to the World … Unspeakable Joy … Rises in my soul … Never lets me go.

Chris Tomlin – Joy To The World (Unspeakable Joy) [Lyric Video]

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