The Wonders of Love, Con’t

imagesHarold Bauman suggested in his comment The Wonders of Love that I continue my analysis of the carol:  “Joy to the World.”  I write this post because others may have similar questions.  I stumbled on the following link that explains the difference between the Lord “is come” and “has come.”

If I understand correctly, the phrase “the Lord is come” is an archaic form of English that was common in 1719 when “Joy to the World” was written by Isaac Watts. In this construction, the subject does not actively initiate, or is not actively responsible for, the action of the verb.

This is consistent with John 3:16 which says that “For God so loved that the world that he gave his only begotten son . . .”  The birth of Jesus in the manger of Bethlehem was initiated not by Jesus, but by God as a love-gift.  Isaac Watts used what is now an archaic English construction to communicate his theology to the readers of his poem in his day.

Today, when we say “The Lord has come,” we emphasize the action of coming, and imply that Jesus initiated his own coming. That’s why we should not sing, “The Lord has come.” It removes God from the coming of Jesus.


Over power by persuasion

Another word makes me ponder.  I inadvertently used the word in the preceding sentence.  The word is make or makes.  Make sometimes suggests change by force, or being compelled against one’s will.  But I have not been compelled to ponder against my will. I ponder because of my curiosity.

“Make” in the context of the carol is much gentler than force.  The blessings of God flow to water, nurture, and bring life, not as a powerful, destructive stream that sweeps everything away in its path.

No more let sin and sorrow grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found –

The word makes is found again in the last paragraph.  Watts believed that Jesus  rules the world with truth and grace.  While he was alive,  Jesus  influenced society by the simple way he lived and taught.  So Watts pictures the triumph of Jesus and his people in the end of the age, not in the beginning.  Note:

Love, & laughter, wisdom & hope

Love & laughter, wisdom & hope

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of his love –

The United States and Russia, Palestinians and Jews, Muslims and Christians will prove the wonders of love when they take on his righteousness.   When every one lives and loves like Jesus  there will be peace.

I like this Pope! He inspires hope.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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1 Response to The Wonders of Love, Con’t

  1. On the other hand, HE chose to come – He counted it joy. If I say that Napoleon has invaded Russia, it could mean that it has indeed been done. When and why are not the question. We, living in our world that tends to revolve around us so that we forget history, would be prone to think that it is happening right how. Our redemption and our eternal life with Him was promised in the past, done with Christ, and is available to you and me now, and to our kids. He has come. And He is come. To me, “He is come” is like saying that God, whose name is I AM, who invented time, whose concern for us is constant is presently extending the promised, real, historical Christ to us even now. And I say “joy” to the world. He opens the door for us, He causes us to see by the Spirit, He enables us – He makes us able to not have sins and sorrows growing, and for nations to realize Him, altho that seems a ways away, doesn’t it. Makes the nations prove says to me that HE is in charge after all and nations will see it when they really look.

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