Ode To Joy
Shown below is the first verse to the song Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.
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!
Many of us in our western churches likely don’t realize that this song did not originally include the lyrics shown above - nor the additional 3 verses that go with it. The version most of us know was written in 1907 by the American author (and Christian) Henry van Dyke and sang to the original melody of Ode To Joy (“An die Freude”) written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1824. Truth is, even Beethoven didn’t write the original lyrics to this particular section of what is arguably his most famous symphony, Symphony No. 9. The “Ode to Joy” text that Beethoven “borrowed”, and also slightly modified, was written by the German poet, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller 1785.
Check it out
If you haven't heard/seen Symphony No.9, check out a this great performance of it. The entire thing is incredible, but you begin to catch glimpses of the unmistakable melody of "Ode To Joy" around the 54th minute.)
A few thoughts come to mind as I read these lyrics.
First, as a composer myself, I love classical music, especially Beethoven, Mozart and Bach - the big guns. I have always been captivated by music. One could often find me as a young kid laying down next to one of our old home stereo speakers immersing myself in my parent's 8-track collections of Fleetwood Mac, Air Supply, The Eagles, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, or the soundtracks to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Phantom of the Opera". This is where I learned to really appreciate, listen to and feel music for the first time. But it also became the fertile foundation for my early steps as a young composer and songwriter.
Secondly, I am so thankful for Henry van Dyke penning the lyrics of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” to one of the most singable melodies that has ever been written. I can't imagine NOT having this song to sing together.
But most importantly, I want to draw your attention to the first verse. Take a moment and read just the first 4 lines again:
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee
Opening to the sun above.
For me, as a worship leader, one called to help people know and sing their faith, these words ruin me. Put into a first-person context, these lyrics drive home how I want my personal worship of my Great Savior to be. And not only that, it's my hope for those in my immediate community to worship Him with this same level of intimacy and vulnerability.
"Joyful! Joyful! I adore You! God of glory, Lord of love. My heart unfolds like a flower before You, opening to the sun above."
Beautiful. Powerful. Intimate.
A thought to ponder:
Do these words describe your worship of Jesus? If not, why not? Be really honest in your self assessment here. Perhaps even confess to God any joylessness you have today or have been stewing in for some time. Pray that God would help you build a habit of deep gratitude and a heart that rejoices in all that he has and is doing; even if a prayer like that takes you down a road to some mourning and grieving over any unrepentant sin that is robbing you of true joy.
Finally, take note of the last 4 lines of the first verse of the song:
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
Be encouraged my friends!
 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (ESV)
 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning. (ESV)
1 Peter 1:3–9
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,  obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (ESV)