"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Favorite Hymns - Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts

Like many churches today, my church does not sing many old hymns. Even the ones we do sing tend to be the popular hymns from the previous generation, as opposed to weighter, older hymns. There are five hymns in particular that are favorites of mine, but I haven't been in a church that has sung them regularly in almost fifteen years. Even so, I still find myself returning to the words of these hymns because they mean something special to me.

The first of these that I will "introduce" to you is Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts. This hymn is attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Outside of the authors of Scripture, Bernard was the second most referenced person in the writings of John Calvin (Augustine being the most referenced). In "The Reformer Saint and the Saintly Reformer" (Chrisitan History - Issue 24), W. Standford Reid writes, "Because of Bernard’s theological and ecclesiastical point of view, one need hardly be surprised that both Luther and Calvin regarded him as a forerunner of their own movement. Luther expressed his appreciation of Bernard by calling him one of “the greatest doctors of the church,” but did not seem to make much use of his thinking and guidance in his own writings. Calvin, on the other hand, more than once expressed the view that Bernard spoke the very truth itself, and quoted him frequently in the Institutes and at least three times in the commentaries. In fact Calvin seems to refer to him favorably more frequently than he does to any other medieval author. Apparently, he recognized Bernard as being of the same mind with himself on the fundamentals of the faith."

This hymn holds a special place for me as, when I attended a church that partook of communion every Sunday evening, I would frequently read this hymn as we were preparing our hearts. From a communion standpoint, the third stanza is significant (surely communion being what Bernard had in mind), and as a reminder that, "from the best bliss that earth imparts, we turn unfilled to Thee again." While it is not even included in the Southern Baptist Hymnal anymore, I still view this as one of the great hymns of the faith.

Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

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