Joy to the World was not actually composed by Handel although it may have been inspired by the Messiah. The first complete version appeared in the early 1830’s in English tune-books. William Holford revised the tune (which he called Comfort) in the mid-1830’s, pubished it, and attributed it to Handel because of the tunes’ resemblance to the opening phrases of the choruses Lift Up Your Heads and Glory to God from Messiah. The American composer Lowell Mason (1792-1872) in 1839 retained the attribution to Handel, changed the tune-name to Antioch, and united it with Isaac Watt’s hymn [i.e., text] for the first time. Thus, Joy to the World was born.

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