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Saturday, November 5, 2016
All thy works with joy surround thee;
earth and heaven reflect thy rays;
stars and angels sing around thee,
center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
flowery meadow, flashing sea,
chanting bird and flowing fountain,
call us to rejoice in thee.
Henry van Dyke’s “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore thee”
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
Described by Henry van Dyke as “a hymn of trust and joy and hope,” “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” has been one of the most popular hymns within our tradition since the text was written in 1907. Its words are reminiscent of the beginning of Psalm 19: “The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” It is a hymn in which God’s creation stands as a witness to God’s love and care—that everywhere we look, we see God’s hand involved in its shaping.
While I could never be described as the outdoorsy type, every year the arrival of summer brings me a renewed appreciation for the weather and the way it impacts the moods and rhythms of daily life. It’s certainly easier to sing God’s praises on warm summer nights than bitterly cold ones! And yet, true as that may be, this hymn challenges us to see God in “all thy works” rather than just the works we are comfortable in. Van Dyke uses beautiful and evocative imagery through the text, but the listed locales are almost entirely opposites to one another. There is beauty in the summer, yes, but so too in the fall, winter, and spring.
May we trust that God is indeed there no matter what season of life we are in, even if we are unable to hear any shouts of joy around us. All of God’s creation indeed sings of God’s glory—and we are invited to join that chorus.
Creator God, help me to recognize you in all that I encounter on this day, celebrating you and your works with my voice full and joyful. Amen.
Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry
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