It’s the third Sunday in Advent and since the theme for this Sunday is joy we sang “Joy to the World!” at church this morning. This has to be one of the most familiar and popular of all Christmas hymns. I have enjoyed singing this song since my childhood. Even as a kid I particularly liked the part that says, “let heaven and nature sing.” What I didn’t realize back then is that the idea of heaven and nature singing comes straight out of the Bible.
Few people seem to know that the background for Isaac Watts’ famous carol is Psalm 98. In verse 4 of this Psalm we read, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.” This, of course, is where the title for “Joy to the World!” comes from. But what about “heaven and nature” singing? That comes later. In the last three verses the Psalmist declares: “Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.” Here we see that the sea, along with all the creatures that inhabit it; the world, along with all of its inhabitants; and also the rivers and mountains are called to sing a joyful song unto the coming Lord.
The Bible teaches us that God created the world and us for His glory. It only makes sense then that all of Creation should join together in singing God’s praise. And there is certainly no better time to lift our voices with the rest of Creation than during this season when we pause to remember that “God so loved the world He gave His only Son.” (John 3:16) We may not understand how, or even accept that it is true, but nature does, in fact, offer praise to its Maker. If we are wise, we will do the same. And if we truly realize what’s going on it will be a joyful song we sing. So let’s not rest content with just heaven and nature singing, let’s all do our part as well!
(The top image was taken at Cape Elizabeth in Maine. The middle image was taken in Big South Fork N.R.R.A. in Kentucky. The bottom image was taken in Kings Canyon N.P. in California.)