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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, April 22, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

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.

“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (v. 1) by Henry van Dyke
Hymn 611, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

There are two hymns in Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal set to this tune, identified in the index as “Hymn of Joy.” “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” is one, and the other is the 1984 Easter anthem by Brian Wren, “Christ Is Risen! Shout Hosanna!” This is surely one of the most recognized melodies in the world. It originated in the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, and it has been utilized for many a movie montage and wedding. It was even the setting for the national anthem of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for about five years in the late 1970s.

The text for “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” is by Henry van Dyke, the American diplomat and Presbyterian minister. He wrote it in 1907 and described the verses as “simple expressions of common Christian feelings and desires in this present time.” He called it a hymn of “trust and joy and hope.”

Clouds of “sin and sadness” and “the dark of doubt” don’t wait for any particular time to have their effect, I don’t think. But writing from home in the midst of a remain-in-place order to combat a global pandemic, I have no doubt these hymnal villains are working their effects as much in this moment as any in our lifetime. It’s the sadness that, for me, feels most constant and resistant to intervention. I feel it in my chest, and it clouds my head whenever I try to focus, or even wash the dishes. You might have felt that too.

This first verse is a battle cry, then, and the first four syllables cannon-blasts. “God of Glory” and “Lord of Love” adorn our company’s banners. Our only artillery against these enemies is a fervent plea to the God of our adoring, that the shadows would be driven away and daylight fill all creation.

Even so, let us pray.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, O God of glory, that we might live and serve with joyful vigor. Drive away doubt, O Lord of love, that we may see clearly this moment’s demands. Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with such truth and purpose as would give hope to all who labor with us in service to all your children. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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