Handel Is The Key
In the Baroque Period, “Joy To The World” was printed with music during several instances. In this era, Baroque music icon George Frederic Handel’s composition is dubbed “The Most-Published Hymn in North America”. The most popular contemporary tune of “Joy To The World”, attributed to Lowell Mason from the National Psalmist (1848), is performed preferably in D major. Mason called the tune Antioch, his distillation of Handel’s masterpieces “Lift Up Your Heads” and “Comfort Ye” from the Oratorio Messiah. Messiah was originally connected to Easter, the hallelujahs in praise of the Resurrection of Jesus; And what Messiah is to Easter, “Joy To The World” is to Christmas. Both bring the festive feel with a large-scale bold, symphonic performance piece for solo, chorus, and orchestra. Mason succeeded in creating the classic and regal atmosphere fit for the occasion. The essence of performing a jovial carol is so that everyone may be able to sing it, and everyone can sing in unison in D major. The piano accompaniment uplifts the upbeat singing, textures, and harmonies. There is a blending of choral parts in homophonous harmony (the chords support one melody at a time). In the parts “heaven and nature sing”, “repeat the sounding joy”, and “the wonders of his love”, there is the entrance of voice parts one after the other in quick succession (also called fuguing tune). Mason is the one who matched Handel’s music to the words written by Isaac Watts.
Isaac Watts is an English writer and Pastor who wrote many hymns and carols. The University of Edinburgh awarded Watts a Doctor of Divinity Degree (1728). The world’s favorite carol is Watts’ liturgical interpretation of Psalm 98, 96:11-12 and Genesis 3:17-18. Watts’ verses were published in The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (1719). The New Testament, Handel’s Messiah, and contagious arrangement has turned “Joy To The World” into the Christmas smash that it is.