The Hymn of Joy

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"The Hymn of Joy"[1] (often called "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" after the first line) is a poem written by Henry van Dyke in 1907 with the intention of musically setting it to the famous "Ode to Joy" melody of the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's final symphony, Symphony No. 9.[2]


Van Dyke wrote this poem in 1907 while staying at the home of Williams College president Harry Augustus Garfield. He was serving as a guest preacher at Williams at the time. He told his host that the local Berkshire Mountains had been his inspiration.[3]

The lyrics were first published in 1911 in Van Dyke's Book of Poems, Third Edition.[3]

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.

"This hymn is generally considered by hymnologists to be one of the most joyous expressions of hymn lyrics in the English language."[3][who?]

Notable Recordings[edit]

Amy Grant recorded the song, which appears on her 2005 studio album Rock of Ages... Hymns and Faith. This version later appeared on her 2015 compilation album Be Still and Know... Hymns & Faith. Lauryn Hill and the cast of Sister Act 2 recorded a joyous, gospel music, hip hop infused version of The Hymn of Joy called "Joyful, Joyful" for the film's soundtrack.

Original text[edit]

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,
chanting[4] bird and flowing fountain,
call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
ever blessing, ever blest,
well-spring of the joy of living,
ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou the[5] 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 mighty[6] chorus,
which the morning stars began;
Father-love[7] is reigning o'er us,
brother-love binds man to man.[8]
Ever singing, march we onward,
victors in the midst of strife;
joyful music lifts us sunward
in the triumph song of life.


  1. ^ "The Hymn of Joy". The Survey. 1914. Retrieved December 1, 2013. 
  2. ^ Rev. Corey F. O'Brien, "November 9, 2008 sermon" at North Prospect Union United Church of Christ in Medford.
  3. ^ a b c Osbeck, Kenneth W. (1982). 101 Hymn Stories. Kregel Publications. p. 145. 
  4. ^ Some hymnals: "singing"
  5. ^ Some hymnals: "our"
  6. ^ Some hymnals: "happy"
  7. ^ Some hymnals: "Love Divine" (United Methodist Hymnal) or "God's own love"
  8. ^ Some hymnals: "binding all within its span" (United Methodist Hymnal) or "joining people hand in hand"