Hymn #4: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You

Henry van Dyke (1852-1933), a famous preacher and intellectual of his time, wrote this hymn during a visit to Williams College in Massachusetts in 1907, where he was a guest preacher.  Van Dyke credited the Berkshire mountains as his inspiration and intended the hymn to be sung to Beethoven’s melody.

Henry van Dyke was born November 10, 1852, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and was educated at Princeton University.  Ordained to the Presbyterian ministry, he served churches in Rhode Island and New York and later spent twenty-three years as professor of English literature at Princeton.  Van Dyke died at Princeton in 1933.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) composed this tune, called here HYMN TO JOY, as the final chorus of his Ninth Symphony.  Beethoven was totally deaf when the work was first performed in 1824 in Vienna, Austria.  One of the soloists had to turn him around so he could see the enthusiastic response to the music he could not hear.

Beethoven was an accomplished pianist, first playing in public at age seven.  He went to Vienna to study with Haydn at the age of twenty-two and remained there for the rest of his life.  Beethoven composed some of his greatest works in his last, difficult years when he struggled with deafness and poverty.