“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You.” -Psalm 71:23
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.
[by Henry van Dyke (1852-1933)]
Story Behind the Song
Henry Van Dyke was serving as a guest preacher at Williams College in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. He was so moved by the beauty of God’s creation that he wrote this hymn of joy. The next morning he handed the poem to the college president. “Here is a hymn for you,” he said. “Your mountains were my inspiration. It must be sung to the music of Beethoven’s ‘Hymn to Joy.'” And so it has been ever since.
Van Dyke was a Presbyterian minister; the author of many books, including the best-selling The Other Wise Man; professor of literature at Princeton University; Navy chaplain during World War I; and ambassador to Holland and Luxembourg under President Woodrow Wilson.
When he published this hymn in 1911, he noted that it was to be sung by people who “are not afraid that any truth of science will destroy their religion or that any revolution on earth will overthrow the kingdom of Heaven.” With such confidence, the Christian has much to rejoice about.
[from The One Year Book of Hymns; July 30 entry]