Friday, May 28, 2010

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

In 1785 Friedrich Schiller wrote the poem "Ode to Joy" which was made famous by Beethoven's musical setting in his Ninth Symphony. The poem celebrates the ideal of mankind's unity and brotherhood. In the very next century that ideal was shattered by two world wars. If the story had ended there, Beethoven's music may have been just an ironic footnote in an otherwise very cynical and hopeless world. But the American English professor Henry Van Dyke gave a new meaning to this music when he penned the words of the hymn "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" in 1907. His lyrics made that music even more famous not by celebrating man's joy in himself but by celebrating the joy God gives in salvation. Mankind may begin searching for joy in himself or in the temporary blessings of creation. But the ultimate joy of this world goes beyond anything we can see.

Third Stanza: "Thou art giving and forgiving, Ever blessing, ever blest, Well-spring of the joy of living, Ocean-depth of happy rest! Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Fountainhead of love divine: Joyful, we Thy heav'n inherit! Joyful, we by grace are Thine."

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