JOYFUL, JOYFUL, WE ADORE THEE
Henry van Dyke, 1852–1933
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy … against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22)
While gazing at the magnificent Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts, Henry van Dyke described in “Joyful, Joyful,” the many aspects of life that should bring us joy. He insisted that his text, written in 1911, be sung to the music of “Hymn of Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. This combination of words and great music makes “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” one of the most joyous expressions of any hymn in the English language.
One of the forceful ideas expressed by van Dyke is that God’s gracious love for us should create a greater “brother love” for our fellow man. With God’s help we can become victorious over strife and be “lifted to the joy divine” as we daily show more love to others.
Henry van Dyke was a distinguished Presbyterian minister who served as a moderator of his denomination for a time and as a Navy Chaplain in World War I. Later he was the ambassador to Holland and Luxembourg under President Wilson. He also served a number of years as a professor of literature at Princeton University. High honors came to him for his many devotional writings. Yet this one inspiring hymn is the reason Henry van Dyke is best remembered today:
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love; hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee, hail Thee as the sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away; giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heav’n reflect Thy ways; stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise; field and forest, vale and mountain, bloss’ming meadow, flashing sea, chanting bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blest, well-spring of the joy of living, ocean-depth of happy rest! Thou the Father, Christ our Brother—All who live in love are Thine: Teach us how to love each other; lift us to the joy divine.
Mortals, join the mighty chorus which the morning stars began; father-love is reigning o’er us; brother-love binds man to man. Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife; joyful music lifts us sunward in the triumph song of life.
For Today: Job 38:7; Psalm 98; Habakkuk 3:17–19; 1 Peter 3:8, 9
Would it be possible for you to offer your praise to God for His matchless love in some creative way—original poetry, music, painting … ?