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Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,
Opening to 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 heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our 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 happy 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 leads us sunward
In the triumph song of life.

Henry Jackson van Dyke was born on November 10, 1852 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He was a graduate of Princeton University. After serving as the pastor of Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City for 17 years, he returned to Princeton as a professor of English literature.

While serving as a guest preacher at Williams College in Massachusetts, he wrote this hymn. The very next morning, Henry presented it to Harry A. Garfield, the owner of the house, saying,

"Here is a hymn for you. Your mountains were my inspiration. It must be sung to the music of 'Beethoven's Hymn to Joy.'"

The tune was indeed extracted from the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. This musical masterpiece was Beethoven's greatest. It took him 6 years to write. The most astounding fact was that this and his other great symphonies were written when he was stone deaf. In 1801, Beethoven wrote: "No friend have I. I must live by myself alone; but I know well that God is nearer to me than to others in my art, so I walk fearlessly with Him. I have always known Him and understood Him. I have no timidity about my music; it can have no ill fate...."

This hymn was first published in the Presbyterian Hymnal in 1911. It also appeared in the Poems of Henry van Dyke, 1911. Henry wrote:

"These verses are simple expressions of common Christian feelings and desires in this present time, hymns of today that may be sung together by people who know the thought of the age, and are not afraid that any truth of science will destroy religion, or any revolution on earth overthrow the kingdom of heaven. Therefore this is a hymn of trust and joy and hope."

Henry van Dyke also held a number of eminent posts such as:

  • American ambassador to the Netherlands and Luxembourg

  • Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church

  • Commander of the Legion of Honor and

  • President of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

He chaired the committee that compiled the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship in 1905, and helped prepare the revised edition in 1932.

Henry died on April 10, 1933 in Princeton, New Jersey.

Some of his works are:

  • The Reality of Religion, 1884

  • The Gospel for an Age of Doubt, 1897

  • A Child in the Garden

  • A Noon Song

  • A Wayfaring Song

  • Christ of Everywhere

  • If All the Skies Were Sunshine

  • Little Rivers

  • The Blue Flower, 1902

  • When Tulips Bloom

Below are some of Henry van Dyke's quotes that have been widely published:

There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher.

Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.

Who seeks for Heaven alone to save his soul
May keep the path, but will not reach the goal;
While he who walks in love may wander far,
Yet God will bring him where the blessed are.

Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best.

One should always learn to enjoy the neighbor's garden, however small; the roses straggling over the fence, the scent of lilacs drifting across the road.

Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world - stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death - and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas.

Please view a pictorial presentation of this hymn:
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (1.6 MB)

Written On:
9 August 2005