Lowell Mason (1792–1872) is most recognized as a composer, especially of hymns and American church music. Mason was a pioneer of music education in American schools. He founded the Boston Academy of Music in 1832 and the first public school music program in 1938. Many of his hymns are still sung today, including arrangements of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” and “Joy to the World.” Much of his music is based on European classical composers and Mason is largely responsible for its continued popularity. His work as musical director at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church is credited with the rise of congregational singing in American churches and the standardization of church hymn music.
In 1719, English poet and clergyman Isaac Watts (1674–1748) wrote the words to this hymn, based loosely on Psalm 98. Then in 1836, Lowell Mason, the leading Presbyterian hymn composer in the United States (1792–1872), set the words to the music we now associate with “Joy to the World.”