Joy to the World
HT: Matthew Robbins
Update: I thought this comment from Rachel B was worth reprinting in full
much has already been said, but as a musician and a worshipper i would like to add this:
i totally get what jeff & a few others are saying about jamie’s re-tuning sounding too melancholy for the text, but let’s look a little closer at what happens in this melody: it starts on a minor chord, the melody is an ascending scale. the next two phrases each descend from major to minor, and then it opens up into a building section in the major chords, one last echo of the descent into minor, and the final, repeated flourish is an ascending scale into a major chord.
musician or not, this progression was thoughtfully put together to place these words of truth about Christ’s second coming into a new context. when we sang this song across our campuses this week, it was in the wake of senseless tragedies across the world. how many times have you walked into worship with doubt in your heart? with unspeakable grief? with anxiety or pain or overwhelming despair? is your heart ready, in those moments, to sing a hallelujah chorus? can you just jump up from crushing load and shout for joy?
christians and non-christians alike enter our services each week, and many of them bear a heavy load. the beauty of this new arrangement–which is not meant to take ANYTHING away from the original–is that it takes the worshipper on a journey from a place of uncertainty, sadness, melancholy, even despair, and with the understated current of simple ascending scales, it brings a mouthful of truth to the one with no breath to sing.
i understand the discord of a song that begins with “JOY!” on a minor chord, i even feel this same cognitive dissonance at times when singing this song. but i also vividly remember the sunday morning when i received a phone call telling me that my 25-year-old cousin had a terminal brain tumor. when i walked into church 10 minutes later, i could not sing for joy. i couldn’t even stand in worship. but there were songs sung by the saints around me that carried my doubting heart to trust God.
that is what songs like this are for. that is why we need them. that is why we need them to sound the way they do.