Wayne S. Walker

“But let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice…let them also
that love Thy name be joyful in Thee” (Psa. 5:11)

     INTRO.:  One song that encourages us to be joyful in the Lord is
“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (#27 in “Hymns for Worship Revised”).
The text was written by Henry VanDyke (1852-1933).  A Presbyterian
minister who also served as a professor of English literature at
Princeton University in New Jersey, he penned these words in 1908 while a
guest spaker at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, among the Berkshire
hills.  His aim, which may have been the result of a suggestion,  was to
produce suitable words for the tune (Ode to Joy) from the final movement
of the Ninth Symphony (Choral) composed in 1824 by Ludwig van Beethovan
(1770-1827).  This had already been arranged as a hymn tune in 1864 by an
English musician who served at Trinity Church in New York City, NY,
Edward Hodges (1796-1867).

      However, it lacked an adequate text.  One morning at the breakfast
table, VanDyke handed the manuscript to Mr. Garfield, the college
president, saying, “Here is a hymn for you.  Your mountains [the
Berkshires] were my inspiration.  It must be sung to the music of
Beethovan’s ‘Hymn to Joy.'”  It was first published in 1911 in VanDyke’s
“Book of Poems,” third edition.  Afterwards, VanDyke also served for
three years as United States Ambassador to the Netherlands and
Luxembourg.  During World War I, he served as a lieutenant commander in
the United States Navy Chaplain Corps.  Then following his retirement in
1923, he spent his remaining years in Princeton.

     This hymn portrays the interplay between God’s created world and our

I. In stanza 1, the God who is manifest outwardly in creation is also the
Lord who must be manifest inwardly in human life
 A. As flowers open to the sun above, so our hearts should turn toward
the God of
heaven and be filled with joy: Isa. 49:13
 B. As the sun melts the gloomy fog, so we can ask God to drive the dark
of doubt in our lives away: Mal. 4:2
 C. And as the sun is the bringer of light for life, so God is the Giver
of immortal gladness who can fill us with the light of day: Jas. 1:17

II. In stanza 2, we are reminded that God’s phyical creation speaks of
His glory and so directs our worship to the Creator Himself
 A. Indeed, all of God’s works point us to praise joyfully Him who made
them: Psa. 145:10-12
 B. Even the very stars of the heavens declare His glory and show His
handiwork: Psa. 19.1-4
 C. And all the fields, forest, vales, mountains, meadows, seas, birds,
and fountains remind us that the earth is the Lord’s and call us to
rejoice in Him: Psa. 24.1-2

III. In stanza 3, emphasis is now placed on the spiritual blessings that
this same creative God provides for the inner needs of man
 A. The God who is giving is also forgiving so that we might have the joy
of living and happy rest: Psa. 103.8-14
 B. Because He is our Father, He sent Christ to partake of flesh and
blood as our brother and through death bring salvation: Heb. 2:14-18
 C. Our prayer should be that this same love which God has shown to us,
with its accompanying joy, may be ours too: Gal. 5:21-22

IV. In stanza 4, the ultimate effect of our relationship with God is
victory over the ills of life and eternal triumph as we march onward to
be with God
 A. God’s children are invited to join the mighty chorus of joy which
began at creation’s dawn: Job 38.4-7
 B. To do this, we must acknowlege the reign of God in love over our
lives which in turn binds us to one another as fellow citizens of His
kingdom: Lk. 17:20-21
 C. And as we sing together and march according to His directions, we can
be victors in the midst of strife: Rom. 8:37-39, 1 Cor. 15:54-57, 1 Jn.

     CONCL.:  VanDyke was a prolific writer, but he is best remembered
for this one majiestic hymn of joyful praise.  The Bible has a lot to say
about the importance of genuine joy in the life of each Christian.  And
with trust and hope in God we can certainly find many good aspects of
life which should bring us joy.  But we need to remember that every good
gift comes from God.  Therefore, may we ever express our praise to Him as
we sing, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”

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