Sunday, December 25, 2016

First Presbyterian Church (Davenport, Iowa) – "Joy to the World" (2007)

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground

Given that there are so many sins and sorrows in the world today, I’m not sure that thorns infesting the ground is a serious enough problem that it deserves special mention.  (Maybe if you’re barefoot, or you’re constantly getting flat tires when you ride your mountain bike because the ground is infested with thorns.)

Looking back on 2016, I have to say it was the best of times (the birth of my first grandchild and the announcement that a second one was on the way), and the worst of times (my father’s death, which resulted in my mother’s emotional disintegration).  I’m thankful for the good stuff, but I find myself getting dragged down by the bad stuff. 

The best of times
Some of you have no doubt suffered more and had less to celebrate.  I sincerely regret that – but I’m afraid I’m not the best person for you to turn to for help, because I am so busy feeling sorry for myself that I don’t have much time to feel sorry for you.  

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The words to “Joy to the World” were written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), an English minister and logician.

Watts wrote some 750 hymns.  (“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” are two of the most well-known Watts hymns.)

Stained glass at St. John's
The Christmas eve service at St. John’s Episcopal Church (Lafayette Square) in Washington, DC – which is the church where American presidents traditionally attend a special service the day they are inaugurated, and (more importantly) the church where all my children and my grandchild were baptized – always closes with an enthusiastic rendition of “Joy to the World.”

I don’t have a recording of a St. John’s “Joy to the World,” but here’s a wonderful performance of the hymn by the folks at the First Presbyterian Church in Davenport, Iowa:

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