The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Join, All Ye Joyful Nations


For Christmas

Words:  Charles Wesley, Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord (London: Strahan, 1745).

Source: George Osborn, ed., The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, Reprinted from the Originals, With the Last Corrections of the Authors. Volume 4. (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, 1869), pp. 110-112.

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1. Join, all ye joyful nations,
The' acclaiming host of heaven!
   This happy morn
   A Child is born,
To us a Son is given:

The messenger and token
Of God's eternal favour,
   God hath sent down
   To us His Son,
An universal Saviour!

2. The wonderful Messias,
The Joy of every nation,
   Jesus His name,
   With God the same,
The Lord of all creation:

The Counsellor of sinners,
Almighty to deliver,
   The Prince of Peace
   Whose love's increase
Shall reign in man for ever.

3. Go see the King of Glory,
Discern the heavenly Stranger,
   So poor and mean,
   His court an inn,
His cradle is a manger:

Who from His Father's bosom,
But now for us descended,
   Who built the skies,
   On earth He lies,
With only beasts attended.

4. Whom all the angels worship
Lies hid in human nature;
   Incarnate see
   The Deity,
The infinite Creator:

See the stupendous blessing
Which God to us hath given,
   A child of man,
   In length a span,
Who fills both earth and heaven.

5. Gaze on that helpless Object
Of endless adoration!
   Those infant hands
   Shall burst our bands,
And work out our salvation:

Strangle the crooked serpent,
Destroy his works for ever,
   And open set
   The heavenly gate
To every true believer.

6. Till then, Thou holy Jesus,
We humbly bow before Thee,
   Our treasures bring
   To serve our King,
And joyfully adore Thee:

To Thee we gladly render
Whate'er Thy grace hath given,
   Till Thou appear
   In glory here,
And take us up to heaven.


In the “Forward” to Vol. 4, p. xii, of The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, the editors noted that in a letter to Charles, John expressed the desire to omit verses 3, 4, 5 of Hymn VI, and verses 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14 of Hymn XVI. His wishes were not carried out.

In a letter to his brother Charles, dated December 26th, 1761, Wesley expresses a very candid opinion as to the “Nativity Hymns.” Omit one or two of them, and I will thank you. They are namby-pambical.” Judging by the marks in his own copy, he would have omitted verses 3, 4, 5 of Hymn VI. [“Join, All Ye Joyful Nations”], and verses 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14 of Hymn XVI [“O Mercy Divine, How Couldst Thou Incline”]. For some unknown reason his wishes were not carried out; but “the very best hymn in the whole Collection,” namely, that beginning “All glory to God in the sky,” was restored to the place from which it had been unaccountably omitted in several editions. Posterity has almost ratified opinion; though, doubtless, some portion of the interest felt in this hymn may be ascribed to his singing (or attempting to sing) it on his death-bed.”

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