Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Joy to the World

"Joy to the World", the very popular Christmas carol, has an interesting story behind it.

The tune is by George Frederick Handel, who wasn't at all bad at composing music really ("Water Music", "Fireworks Music", "The Messiah" etc).

But the words are by Isaac Watts, one of the greatest hymn writers in England ("O God Our Help in Ages Past", "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" etc).

Isaac Watts lived in Southampton, and was the son of a Minister.

When he was 15, Isaac criticised his father's congregation, saying that when singing hymns they were only reciting words, without putting any feeling into it.

"O.K.", replied Watts Senior, understandably, "You reckon you're so clever. Why don't you write something worthy of being sung with fervour?"

So he did.

This and the stories behind lots of other Christmas carols are told in my talk "Ding Dong Merrily on High", which I give to groups every year.