History of Christmas carols in the LDS hymnbook

Published: Thursday, Dec. 22 2011 9:00 a.m. MST

'Joy to the World' Next » 1 of 14 « Prev
201. England/Boston. Text: Issac Watts (1674-1748), alt. by William W. Phelps (1792-1872). Music: George F. Handel (1685-1759), arr. Lowell Mason (1792-1872).

The text came from English hymnist Issac Watts, who wrote more than 600 hymns.

Boston Presbyterian Lowell Mason arranged the tune, thought to be derived from some of the music of Handel’s “Messiah.” Mason himself gave primary credit to Handel for the tune.

William W. Phelps made some significant changes to the text. For example, he changed the phrase “the Lord will come” to “the Lord is come.” The phrase “saints and angels sing” is unique to the LDS version as well, different from the more common “heaven and nature sing.”

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Hans in California
Valencia, CA

The numbers for the hymns in the LDS Hymnbook are not page numbers; they're hymn numbers!

Rich in California
Palo Alto, CA

To the best of my knowledge, the *original* text of "Joy to the World" said "the Lord is come". W. W. Phelps changed it to "the Lord will come", and actually rewrote the entire hymn, changing it from a Christmas song to a Second Coming song. The 1985 hymnal restored the original first line, but left the rest of Bro. Phelps' millennial text basically intact.

I've long been concerned that our version of this hymn may be a stumbling block for some of our friends of other faiths, who may assume our insistence on a total rewrite of the lyrics must mean we have major theological objections to the traditional text -- something I really don't think is the case.

Phoenix, AZ

Oh please on the page numbers.

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