Isaac Watts wrote the words to “Joy to the World” in 1719, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. The hymn originally glorified Christ’s triumphant return at the end of the age, rather than a song celebrating His first coming. Only the second half of Watts’ lyrics are still used today.
The music was adapted and arranged to Watts’ lyrics by Lowell Mason in 1839 from an older melody which was then believed to have originated from Handel. The name “Antioch” is generally used for the hymn tune.
As of the late 20th century, “Joy to the World” was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America.
There are versions of Joy to the World available at the O’Connor Music Studio for any level of playing, starting with Pre-Reading, all the way up through Advanced and duets.
• 1918 ~ Milton DeLugg, Bandleader on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; Milton DeLugg and His Orchestra: Abe Burrows’ Almanac, The Chuck Barris Rah Rah Show, Dagmar’s Canteen, Doodles Weaver, The Gong Show, Judge for Yourself, Your Hit Parade; played accordion in The Milton DeLugg Quartet and songwriter
• 1928 ~ Jörg Demus, Austrian pianist
• 1934 ~ Billy Paul (Paul Williams), Singer
• 1941 ~ Tom McGuinness, Bass, guitar with Manfred Mann; McGuinness Flint; and Blues Band
• 1942 ~ Ted Bluechel, Jr., Singer, drummer with The Association
• 1944 ~ Eric Bloom, Singer, guitarist
• 1945 ~ John Densmore, Musician with The Doors
• 1950 ~ Dino Lipatti, classical pianist and composer whose career was cut short from causes related to Hodgkin’s disease, died at the age of 33
• 1952 ~ Michael McDonald, Singer, songwriter, keyboard with The Doobie Brothers
• 1960 ~ Rick Savage, Bass with Def Leppard
• 1972 ~ Motown’s Temptations reached the #1 spot on the top 40 charts with Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone. It was the fourth #1 hit for the Temptations, joining My Girl, I Can’t Get Next to You and Just My Imagination.
• 1981 Hershy Kay, composer, died at the age of 62. Union Jack is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine to traditional British tunes, hornpipe melodies and music-hall songs, ca. 1890–1914, adapted by Hershy Kay. The premiere took place on 13 May 1976, at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, to honor British heritage in the United States its bicentennial with costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, original lighting by Ronald Bates and current lighting by Mark Stanley. At the finale, the ensemble spells out “God Save the Queen” in semaphore code and the Union Jack unfurls. Principal dancer Jock Soto included an excerpt from Union Jack in his farewell performance in June 2005.