The triumph song of life

Henry J. van Dyke, an American preacher and scholar, wrote the lyrics to Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee in 1907 (fittingly 100 years ago). Yesterday, our worship team lead us through the song and two things jumped out at me. We have been studying Isaiah in our small group and are discussing Isaiah 5&6 tonight. Contained in those chapters is Isaiah’s vision of God in all His majesty and glory, surrounded by cherubim singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” It has been pointed out to me that the Hebrew language has a lack of punctuation marks, especially an equivalent to the exclamation point. The writers, being inspired by God, would frequently use repetition of words for emphasis. God isn’t merely Holy, or Holy x2. He is Holy, Holy, Holy. Incidentally (yet probably intentionally), three is the number of the Trinity. The word holy can be used in many ways, and I often hear it defined as set apart. That God is so very pure, high, and set apart from us can be scary and intimidating if we leave it there and fail to realize that He is a personal, relational God. I think that is why Mr. van Dyke didn’t stop at Joyful, he kicked it up to Joyful, Joyful.

This is the week of thanksgiving and we are called to respond to our God. We are to reflect (and not just glaze over) what he has done in our lives. I think that is where this Joyful, joyful attitude comes from. The most moving piece of the song (to me) is that he pictures God as the “Center of unbroken praise.” The image this invokes is one of completeness, fullness, and reverence. That God is so worthy that He receives unbroken praise, not the sorry excuse that I offer up. That when we leave church on Sunday, praise of Him continues. I pray that this Thanksgiving we can enter into this praise joyfully, humbly, expectantly, and triumphantly.

I want to give a word of encouragement to our worship team at WestTown for the beautiful gift of music they shared with us yesterday (in no particular order: Joe, Billy, Josh, Jen, Meagan, Chris, Paul, Frank, and always Drew). In my view, this was one of the best musical offerings we’ve experienced. Thank you for all the hard work and time you put into the service each week!


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One Response to “The triumph song of life”

  1. Jen Says:

    Thanks Avery. Very encouraging and insightful post.


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