Joy to the World

My family came across a choir of Mormon missionaries singing Christmas songs tonight. As they began singing “Joy to the World” we noticed that where we were familiar with the words “heaven and nature sing” they had changed the words to “saints and angels sing”. Does anyone have any insight into this change in lyrics? Is there any aversion to the traditional lyrics within Mormonism?


6 thoughts on “Joy to the World

  1. I’ve heard both versions sung in church.

    The LDS hymnal has the words “saints and angels” and cites Lowell Mason (1792-1872) with the arrangement.

  2. William Phelps altered the words of the LDS version of Joy to the World, most significantly removing Watt’s fourth verse,

    “He rules the world with truth and grace,
    And makes the nations prove
    The glories of His righteousness,
    And wonders of His love,
    And wonders of His love,
    And wonders, wonders, of His love.”

    and replacing it with,

    “Rejoice! Rejoice in the Most High,
    While Israel spreads abroad
    Like stars that glitter in the sky,
    And ever worship God,
    And ever worship God,
    And ever, and ever worship God.”

  3. You’d be amazed at how many little words and phrases are different in the LDS hymnal versus those used in the majority of the Christian Church. I left Mormonism four years ago and still catch myself out of sync with what everyone else is singing at times. Would be cool to see a study all the the words changed and why.

  4. It would be interesting to see why the various changes were made.

    The Mormon Joy to the World has lost the connection to the Psalms in Watt’s hymn.

  5. I’ve heard both versions of “Joy to the World” performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I don’t think there’s any aversion to the original lyrics. As far as I know, the situation is simply that William Phelps wrote some alternative lyrics and they became the Mormon tradition.

    The only non-LDS hymn that I know of that has been changed for theological reasons for Mormon use is “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” which does not include the traditional second verse in our hymnal. When MoTab sings the song, it uses the words “Veiled flesh our Lord is he, Saviour through eternity.”

    Several of the non-LDS hymns have minor differences from the Protestant versions I grew up with. As far as I’ve been able to find out, most of the changes are due simply to the fact that there were more than one version in existence of many hymns, and Emma Smith or whoever made the compilation knew a version that was different than the one that became more popular among other churches. There are also some translation differences. For example, the usual English version of “A Mighty Fortress” has the line “a bulwark never failing.” In the LDS version, it’s a “mighty tower” — basically the same meaning. Similarly, there are several English versions of “How Great Thou Art” in existence. The current hymnal uses one of them; the one more well-known to Americans became that way because it was the one used at Billy Graham crusades.

    One of changed hymns that trips me up is “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” which is in the LDS hymnal as “Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah.” I don’t why that change was made.

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