Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Full Text

1 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 gloom of doubt away;
giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day!

2 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,
chanting bird and flowing fountain
call us to rejoice in thee.

3 Thou art giving and forgiving,
ever blessing, ever blest,
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.

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Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

What we know as the attributes of God reveal his character and being. For these, he is worthy of praise and adoration. Even before he says or does anything, he is praise-worthy. The opening words of Belgic Confession, Article 1 declare that God is “eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty; completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing source of all good.”

The Lord’s Prayer ends with a doxology, and Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 128 extrapolates: “Your holy name…should receive all the praise, forever.” After expressing our trust in the total care of God for all things, Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 declares, “God is able to do this because he is Almighty God and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.” And so we express our praise and adoration to God for who he is.


Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Words of Praise

In you, infinite God, we live and move and have our being.
You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
We praise and adore you, everlasting God.
But we are creatures of dust who return to dust.
In the morning you wake us up into the thunder of life.
In the evening you sweep us away in the sleep of death.
We are only mortals, mere transients in the world.
Our days quickly pass, and we fly away.
We bow before you, everlasting God.
Our times are in your hands, because
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
So teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
We need your guidance, everlasting God.
You could condemn us with just cause.
Because of our sin, you could consume us with your anger,
yet you surround us with compassion.
Your unfailing love is all we need.
We thank you, everlasting God.
May we sing for joy all our days.
Bless our work and our lives
so that they may testify to your glory.
We worship you, everlasting God,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
—based on Psalm 90
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

Lord, you make a pink flower from a gray seed,
an ear from a kernel,
a carrot from a seed the size of a pinhead,
an oak tree from an acorn.
You have programmed your soil to provide food for your plants,
wooden trees to make apples, feathered hens to lay eggs,
grass-eating cows to give milk.
And you, grand Creator, you have us take care of your grand creation.
In your mercy, Lord, send rain to water our crops and gardens.
Let your sun shine on our fields so that seeds will produce abundantly,
so that vines and stalks and trees will hang heavy with fruit and grain.
And Lord, let your grace be as rich to our cattle as it is to us;
let it keep our hogs free of disease,
our hens laying eggs, and our cows giving milk.
May our animals be fertile;
may our lambs and calves and pigs frolic in your green pastures
so that even in their play we may see your grace.
Help us to live on your good earth—
preserving and caring for the life and soil you bless,
ever thankful that for our good
you gave your laws of nature and your law of love.
Help us for our good and your glory to see those laws as you see them
and as the psalmist saw them—as good and perfect, pleasant to think about.
And Lord, teach us to share the abundance you have given us,
never gloating in our excess
but always giving our first bushels to feed the hungry in your name.
Enlighten our hearts, Lord,
so that our thank-yous ever rise in a crescendo to your throne.
See and hear us through the blood of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
[Reformed Worship 14:39]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Hymn Story/Background

Van Dyke’s text is a multi-layered poem of praise. Albert Bailey describes it as an “intricate interweaving of fact and metaphor.” 
— The Gospel in Hymns

ODE TO JOY or HYMN TO JOY is the adaptation of Beethoven’s famous final movement in his Ninth Symphony into a melody fit for congregational singing. Around 1908, Henry Jackson Van Dyke wrote his text to be “sung to the music of Beethoven’s ‘Hymn to Joy’” (Hymnstudies, homeschoolblogger.com). The tune has an D meter, which Austin Lovelace describes as having the “ability to carry massive ideas in its fifteen syllables per double line” (Anatomy of Hymnody, 74). It is a tune of grandeur and, fittingly, joy. It almost begs to be sung in a fast, upbeat manner; Jerry Jenkins writes, “the tune is so reminiscent of sprightly harpsichords that the words begin to bounce, and suddenly I’m singing it the way it was meant to be sung—at least in style” (Hymns for Personal Devotions, 132). It was adapted into a hymn tune by Edward Hodges.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Henry Van Dyke (b. Germantown, Pennsylvania, November 10, 1852; d. April 10, 1933) was an American author, educator, and clergyman. He graduated from Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, then served as a professor of English literature at Princeton University between 1899 and 1923. During that time he was appointed by President Wilson to become Minister to the Netherlands and Luxembourg in 1913. Apart from his numerous books and hymn texts, Van Dyke is credited with having chaired the committee that wrote the first Presbyterian printed liturgy, The Book of Common Worship of 1906. 
— Laura de Jong

Composer Information

A giant in the history of music, Ludwig van Beethoven (b. Bonn, Germany, 1770; d. Vienna, Austria, 1827) progressed from early musical promise to worldwide, lasting fame. By the age of fourteen he was an accomplished viola and organ player, but he became famous primarily because of his compositions, including nine symphonies, eleven overtures, thirty piano sonatas, sixteen string quartets, the Mass in C, and the Missa Solemnis. He wrote no music for congregational use, but various arrangers adapted some of his musical themes as hymn tunes; the most famous of these is ODE TO JOY from the Ninth Symphony. Although it would appear that the great calamity of Beethoven's life was his loss of hearing, which turned to total deafness during the last decade of his life, he composed his greatest works during this period.
— Bert Polman

Edward Hodges (b. Bristol, England, 1796; d. Clifton, England, 1867) received a Doctor of Music degree from Cambridge in 1825. Throughout his life he combined his interest in organ building and organ playing. He was organist in St. James Church and in St Nicholas Church in Bristol, and he helped to remodel the organs in both churches. In 1838 he immigrated to Canada and was organist in Toronto's St. James Cathedral for one year. After he moved to New York City, he served as organist at St. John's Church (1839-1846) and Trinity Church (1846-1859) and designed the organ in the new Trinity building. A skilled organist, Hodges was known especially for his extemporaneous playing and for his interpretation of J. S. Bach's music. He composed anthems, liturgical music, and hymn tunes, and wrote several essays on church music.
— Bert Polman

Song Notes

Henry Van Dyke’s brilliant hymn of praise has many layers that add to the beauty of his text. As hymnologist Albert Bailey writes, within Van Dyke’s text, “creation itself cannot conceal its joy, and that joy is appreciated by God the center of it all; likewise all nature fills us with joy, caused fundamentally by our recognition of God as the giver” (The Gospel in Hymns, 554). We experience joy on many levels: we witness the joy expressed by creation, we bask in the joy of God as he delights in us, and we experience our own joy as we reflect on all God has done for us and through us. We have all heard this line over and over again, but it’s worth repeating: we rush through life too quickly to stop and be filled with joy. We allow the phone calls we have to make, the laundry we need to fold, the paper we need to write, and the porch we need to fix get in the way of simply stopping, looking around, and being filled with joy and gratitude at the world God has given us. It’s a world where we have people to call, children to clothe, knowledge to express, and parties to host. And more so than anything, even when it seems to be crumbling around us, it’s a world redeemed by Christ. What can we raise to our Savior but this outburst of joy?
— Laura de Jong
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