Joy to the world

Joy to the world

The words of the hymn are by the English writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98, Psalm 96: 11-12 and Genesis 3: 17-18. The text was first published in 1719 in Watts’ collection, The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship. The paraphrase is Watts’ Christological interpretation. Consequently, it does not emphasize with equal weight the various themes of Psalm 98. In stanzas 1 and 2, Watts writes of heaven and earth rejoicing in the coming of the King. An interlude that depends more on Watts’ interpretation than on the text of the Psalm, stanza 3 speaks of Christ’s blessings victoriously extending over the reign of sin. The joyful repetition of the phrase not in the Psalm «far as the curse is found» has caused this stanza to be omitted from some hymnals. But the line has a joyful meaning when understood from the New Testament eyes through which Watts interprets the psalm. Stanza 4 celebrates Christ’s rule over the nations. The nations are called to celebrate because God’s faithfulness to the house of Israel has brought salvation to the world.

Joy to the world

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Christmas carol – joy to the world

The fourth movement of the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), in which he sets to music the poem by Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) called Ode to Joy (Ode an die Freude), is known as the Hymn to Joy.

The neoclassical sensibility had its origins around the middle of the 18th century, and reached its zenith thanks to the revolutionary spirit that the slogan of the French Revolution «equality, liberty and fraternity» and the proclamation of the universal rights of man in 1789 imprinted on culture.

…the creative experience of art played a fundamental role in understanding the ideal of freedom that Beethoven and the artists of the Sturm und Drang had, since the very act of creating meant liberating oneself.

Several sources claim that Beethoven knew Schiller’s poem in 1793, and that since then he was seduced by the idea of setting it to music, although it was not until 1817 that this began to take concrete form.

However, the form of the symphony was alien to this. Beethoven’s decision to include the Ode to Joy in the Ninth Symphony was, by all accounts, a risky decision, but by the same token, it was a proclamation of creative freedom. Nothing could be more romantic than that.

Joy to the world

There is something special about this moment we are living in. It is a work that has been composed, produced, with the times that the pandemic has brought us. And it is a reunion with myself, with the piano as a composer, seeing our reality, and, above all, a wonderful union with professionals from Miami, Barcelona and Madrid.

I think it has played a very important role, as well as the media, because we have all had to reinvent ourselves. For example, face-to-face interviews are now done normally through digital platforms, and the media have taken the news to everyone. We have all reinvented ourselves and, above all, fostering empathy among people. We artists have done our job which is to give love and give culture.

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