Henry J. van Dyke
Henry J. van Dyke was a noted author, poet, clergyman, and academician. Following in his father’s footsteps he became a Presbyterian minister. After twenty-seven years of ministry, he accepted a position at Princeton University as professor of English which he held for twenty-three years. In the 1910s, he became the US ambassador to the Netherlands. He continued his writings which included over seventy books.
Written in 1907 and based on Psalm 71:1-23. The hymn Joyful, joyful we adore thee was given to the President of Williams College in Massachusetts during graduation for which van Dyke was the guest speaker. Inspired by the beauty and grandeur of the Berkshire Mountains, he suggested the text to be sung to Beethoven’s “Hymn to Joy.” Van Dyke characterized the hymn as one of love, hope, and the trust in God’s providence over nature and us. The fourth verse, which does not appear in the Hymnal 1982, seems especially appropriate for the times in which we are living.
Joyful, joyful, we adore, Thee “Hymn to Joy”
Henry J. van Dyke (Text)
Ludwig Von Beethoven (music)
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Thou art giving and forgiving,
Mortals, join the happy chorus,
“Ode to Joy”
These lyrics are from the “Ode to Joy.” The text—written by Friedrick von Shiller, a poet, musician, and physician who lived from 1788 -1805—was used in Beethoven’s ninth and final symphony the “choral symphony” performed in 1824, based on the now famous and familiar tune “Hymn to Joy.”
O friends, no more these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
more full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.
Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise;
But any who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.
All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.
Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.