Ludwig Van Beethoven
(1770 – 1827)
Psalm 71: 23
My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have rescued.
Most of us have heard of the great 19th century composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven. And most of us have heard variations of the famous last movement of his Ninth Symphony in tv commercials and movies --even if we were unfamiliar with the original setting. Many hymnals contain a version of “Ode to Joy” that uses a modern, more religious text.
I did a bit of research on “Ode to Joy”, and would like to share with you some interesting tidbits, beginning with Beethoven and his Ninth Symphony: *
The symphony was the last of his symphonies, being completed 3 years before his death. By the time of its premier in Vienna, Austria, Beethoven was completely deaf. At the end of the piece, the crowd began to applause, but Beethoven was unaware that the piece had ended, due to his deafness. Evidently, the orchestra ended a few measures before Beethoven. One of the female soloists graciously walked over, and turned him around so that he could accept the applause of the audience! Beethoven’s Ninth was the first symphony to include soloists and chorus.
The words Beethoven used for the last movement were taken from a poem written by Friedrich von Schiller, titled, “Ode to Joy”.
In 1907, Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) wrote his own words to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, and titled the hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”, which was later published in 1911. Van Dyke wrote of this hymn: “These verses are simple expressions of common Christian feelings and desires in this present time—hymns of today that may be sung together by people who know the thought of the age, and are not afraid that any truth of science will destroy religion, or any revolution on earth overthrow the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, this is a hymn of trust and joy and hope.” ** Since is first publication, “Joyful, Joyful” has appeared in 246 hymnals. Many artists have recorded this song of joy: Amy Grant, Pentatonix, and Carrie Underwood.
The words to “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”:
1 Joyful, joyful, we adore You,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before You,
Op'ning 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!
2 All Your works with joy surround You,
Earth and heav'n reflect Your rays,
Stars and angels sing around You,
Center of unbroken praise;
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Praising You eternally!
3 Always giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living,
Ocean-depth of happy rest!
Loving Father, Christ our Brother,
Let Your light upon us shine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.
4 Mortals, join the mighty chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
God's own love is reigning o’er us,
Joining people hand in hand.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music leads us sunward
In the triumph song of life.
* Source: Charlottesymphony.org
** Source: Wikipedia
May this season of Advent fill your heart with joy!