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Funeral Songs (Part 6) – “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” by Henry van Dyke (and Ludwig van Beethoven)

16 Aug

Dear God, this will wrap up the funeral songs series I’ve been doing this week. It’s been a fun exercise to kind of go through the songs I would want played and my funeral and think through what the message is that I’m trying to send to the attendees. Frankly, I doubt any of them will get it anyway.

One thing I hope I’m accomplishing is some advice I received from a friend who was widowed much too early in life. She told me that her husband had some very common funeral songs at his funeral, and now it can be hard to go to funerals because at least one of the songs will remind her of her loss. So I’ve hopefully at least picked some songs that 1.) won’t hurt my wife should I die first and 2.) won’t bring up bad memories for others.

Regarding this song, this was also the recessional at our wedding. I think it was my choice, but I’m not positive. I know I at least had some input on it. I’ve always loved it as a song of joy, and if I’m going to have the brass quintet at my funeral, this song should sound pretty good for people as they leave.

Here are the words as written by Henry van Dyke in 1907

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” by Henry van Dyke

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
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!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
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.

I wonder what kind of worship state Mr. van Dyke was in when he wrote these words to accompany Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Was he listening to the German words and felt compelled to put his own worship of you to the tune?

The thing about this song is that it acknowledges that EVERYTHING either is worshiping or will worship you–Earth, heaven, stars, angels, fields, forests, mountains, vales, meadows, seas, birds, fountains, and mortals. And there is so much to worship! Your love for us and our love for you melts the clouds of sin and sadness. It drives the dark of doubt away. And the last verse is just great. We get to join the chorus that the stars began. You reign over us, and our love binds us to you and each other. We are victors in the midst of strife (how great is that?).

Father, I’m not sure if this week did anything to edify me or increase my relationship with you, but I do feel like I was able to look at some of these songs in a new way and understand why they mean so much to me. I was also able to get in some good worship. So I end this series with the simple statement that I love you and I hope that I honor you and bring you glory in my life and in my death.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

 

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