Wayne S. Walker

“We also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now
received the atonement” (Rom. 5.11)

INTRO.: A hymn which speaks of the joy that we have through our
Lord Jesus Christ is, “Jesus, Thou Joy Of Loving Hearts” (#26 in “Hymns
for Worship Revised”). The text is taken from a 192-line medieval
devotional poem, “Jubilus Rhythmicus de Nomine Jesu,” also called “The
Rosy Hymn,” based on the Song of Solomon, long attributed to a French
monk, Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 1090-1153). It first appeared in the 12th
century, around 1150. Other hymns taken from this poem include “Jesus,
The Very Thought of Thee” (“Jesu, dulcis memoria”) and “O Jesus, King
Most Wonderful” (“Jesu, Rex admirabilis”).

The translation/paraphrase of lines 4, 3, 20, 28, and 10 from the
section “Jesu, dulcedo cordium,” was made by Ray Ralmer (1808-1887). It
was first published in “The Sabbath Hymn Book,” compiled by Lowell Mason,
Edwin A. Park, and Austin Phelps at Andover, MA, in 1858. Palmer, an
American Congregationalist preacher, is best-known as the author of “My
Faith Looks Up To Thee.” This text was later included in Palmer’s
“Poetical Works” of 1876.

These words have been set to many different tunes. Many
denominational books use “Quebec” or “Hesperus” composed in 1854 by Henry
Baker and first published in 1862, which most of our books have used with
John Bowring’s hymn “Father And Friend, Thy Life, Thy Love” (“Hymns of
Worship Revised” uses it with “Father of Heaven, Whose Love Profound”).
Most of our books have used “Maryton” composed in 1874 by Henry Percy
Smith, although the same tune is most often associated with Washington
Gladden’s hymn, “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee.” I prefer the tune
“Wescott” or “Panis Coeli” composed, probably for this hymn, in 1872 by
Joseph Barnby.

The text was used in the 1922 edition of the 1921 “Great Songs of
the Church” No. 1 and the 1937 “Great Songs of the Church No. 2” both
edited by E. L. Jorgenson. In addition to “Hymns for Worship,” it can be
found in the 1971 “Songs of the Church,” the 1990 “Songs of the Church
21st C. Ed.,” and the 1994 “Songs of Faith and Praise” all edited by
Alton H. Howard, the 1986 “Great Songs Revised” edited by Forrest M.
McCann, and the 1992 “Praise for the Lord” edited by John P. Wiegand. It
does not appear to be as widely used among us as “Jesus, The Very Thought
Of Thee,” but it is still a good hymn.

The song reminds of us the blessings in Christ that bring joy to
our hearts.

I. In stanza 1, Christ is pictured as the fount of life and light
“Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts, Thou fount of life, Thou light of men,
From all the bliss that earth imparts We turn unfilled to Thee again.”
A. John identifies Christ as the source of both life and light for
mankind: Jn. 1.1-4
B. This is set in contrast to “all the bliss that earth imparts”: Col.
3.1-2. Palmer’s original wording was “From the best bliss that earth
imparts,” but I assume that this was changed because it is not easy to
say “best bliss” when singing the hymn
C. However, the “best bliss” of earth cannot satisfy our innermost needs
and longings, so we must turn, unfilled, to the Lord: Ps. 42.1-2

II. In stanza 2, Christ is pictured as the truth that saves
“Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood; Thou savest those that on Thee
To them that seek Thee, Thou art good, To them that find Thee, all in
A. Only truth can make us free, and Christ Himself is that truth, which
is then revealed to us in His word: Jn. 8.32, 14.6, 17.17
B. Because of this truth, Christ will save all those who truly call on
Him: Acts 2.21, 1 Tim. 1.15
C. And to those who do seek and find Him, He becomes the all in all:
Col. 3.11

III. In stanza 3, Christ is pictured as the living bread and water
“On Thee we feed, Thou living bread, And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountain Head, Whose streams each thirsting soul to
A. Again, Christ identified Himself as the living bread: Jn. 6.35, 41.
Palmer’s original wording read “We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,”
which I assume again was changed because it was not regarded as
melifluous enough.
B. Christ is also the fountain of living water: Jn. 4.14
C. And all who come to this fountain for living water will have their
thirst filled: Jn. 7.37-38. Palmer’s original wording read, “And thirst
our souls from Thee to fill.” I do not know precisely why this was

IV. In stanza 4 (omitted in “Hymns for Worship”, alas!), Christ is
pictured as our rest
“Our restless spirits yearn for Thee, Where’er our changeful lot is
Glad, when thy gracious smile we see, Blest, when our faith can hold Thee
A. Jesus Christ offers rest for our restless spirits: Mt. 11.28-30
B. When we receive this rest, we can, through spiritual eyes, see His
glad smile and be glad: Phil. 4.4
C. And by holding fast to Him in faith, we can be blessed: Matt. 5.3-10

V. In stanza 5, Christ is pictured as an eternal presence in our lives
“O Jesus, ever with us stay; Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away, Shed o’er the world Thy holy light.”
A. Christ has promised to be with His people as we allow Him to dwell in
our hearts by faith: Mt. 28.20, Eph. 3.17
B. His presence will chase the dark night of sin away form us: Eph.
C. And He will shed over us, and through us over the world, His holy
light: 1 Thess. 5.4-8

CONCL.: Some have criticized hymns such as this because they sound
too much like a medieval monk, cloistered in his monastery and separated
from the real world. While it is true that the Bible does not authorize
monasticism and that we as Christians must live in the real world, at the
same time we are not to be of this world. As we live in the midst of a
crooked and perverse generation, maybe we could use a little more of the
same devotional spirit as the medieval monks to help keep us unspotted
from the world as we spend some time addressing our thoughts to “Jesus,
Thou Joy Of Loving Hearts.”

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