“Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts”

"We also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Rom. 5.11)

     INTRO.: A hymn which speaks of the joy that we have through our Lord Jesus Christ is, "Jesus, Thou Joy Of Loving Hearts" (#26 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text is taken from a 192-line medieval devotional poem, Jubilus Rhythmicus de Nomine Jesu, also called The Rosy Hymn or the Jubilee Rhythm, based on the Song of Solomon, long attributed to a French monk, Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 1090-1153). It first appeared in the 12th century, around 1150. Other hymns taken from this poem include "Jesus, The Very Thought of Thee" ("Jesu, dulcis memoria") and "O Jesus, King Most Wonderful" ("Jesu, Rex admirabilis").

     The translation/paraphrase of lines 4, 3, 20, 28, and 10 from the section "Jesu, dulcedo cordium," was made by Ray Ralmer (1808-1887). It was first published in The Sabbath Hymn Book, compiled by Lowell Mason, Edwin A. Park, and Austin Phelps at Andover, MA, in 1858. Palmer, an American Congregationalist preacher, is best-known as the author of "My Faith Looks Up To Thee." This text was later included in Palmer’s Poetical Works of 1876.

     These words have been set to many different tunes. Many denominational books use one (Quebec or Hesperus) composed in 1854 by Henry Baker and first published in 1862, which most of our books have used with John Bowring’s hymn "Father And Friend, Thy Life, Thy Love" (Hymns of Worship Revised uses it with "Father of Heaven, Whose Love Profound" and "Take Up Your Cross"). For "Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts," all of our books have used a tune (Maryton) composed in 1874 by Henry Percy Smith, although the same tune is most often associated with Washington Gladden’s hymn, "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee." Some older books have one (Wescott or Panis Coeli) composed, probably for this hymn, in 1872 by Joseph Barnby (1838-1896).

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christhe text was used in the 1922 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson. Today it can be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship. It does not appear to be as widely used among us as "Jesus, The Very Thought Of Thee," but it is still a good hymn.

     The song reminds of us the blessings in Christ that bring joy to our hearts.

I. In stanza 1, Christ is pictured as the fount of life and light
"Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts, Thou fount of life, Thou light of men,
From all the bliss that earth imparts We turn unfilled to Thee again."
 A. John identifies Christ as the source of both life and light for mankind: Jn. 1.1-4
 B. This is set in contrast to "all the bliss that earth imparts": Col. 3.1-2. Palmer’s original wording was "From the best bliss that earth imparts," but I assume that this was changed because it is not easy to say "best bliss" when singing the hymn
 C. However, the "best bliss" of earth cannot satisfy our innermost needs and longings, so we must turn, unfilled, to the Lord: Ps. 42.1-2

II. In stanza 2, Christ is pictured as the truth that saves
"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."
 A. Only truth can make us free, and Christ Himself is that truth, which is then revealed to us in His word: Jn. 8.32, 14.6, 17.17
 B. Because of this truth, Christ will save all those who truly call on Him: Acts 2.21, 1 Tim. 1.15
 C. And to those who do seek and find Him, He becomes the all in all: Col. 3.11

III. In stanza 3, Christ is pictured as the living bread and water
"On Thee we feed, Thou living bread, And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountain Head, Whose streams each thirsting soul to fill!"
 A. Again, Christ identified Himself as the living bread: Jn. 6.35, 41.  Palmer’s original wording read "We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread," which I assume again was changed because it was not regarded as melifluous enough.
 B. Christ is also the fountain of living water: Jn. 4.14
 C. And all who come to this fountain for living water will have their thirst filled: Jn. 7.37-38. Palmer’s original wording read, "And thirst
our souls from Thee to fill." I do not know precisely why this was changed.

IV. In stanza 4, Christ is pictured as our rest
"Our restless spirits yearn for Thee, Where’er our changeful lot is cast–
Glad, when thy gracious smile we see, Blest, when our faith can hold Thee fast."
 A. Jesus Christ offers rest for our restless spirits: Mt. 11.28-30
 B. When we receive this rest, we can, through spiritual eyes, see His glad smile and be glad: Phil. 4.4
 C. And by holding fast to Him in faith, we can be blessed: Matt. 5.3-10

V. In stanza 5, Christ is pictured as an eternal presence in our lives
"O Jesus, e’er with us stay; Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away, Shed o’er the world Thy holy light."
 A. Christ has promised to be with His people as we allow Him to dwell in our hearts by faith: Mt. 28.20, Eph. 3.17
 B. His presence will chase the dark night of sin away form us: Eph. 5.8-14
 C. And He will shed over us, and through us over the world, His holy light: 1 Thess. 5.4-8

     CONCL.: Some have criticized hymns such as this because they sound too much like a medieval monk, cloistered in his monastery and separated from the real world. While it is true that the Bible does not authorize monasticism and that we as Christians must live in the real world, at the same time we are not to be of this world. As we live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, maybe we could use a little more of the same devotional spirit as the medieval monks to help keep us unspotted from the world as we spend some time addressing our thoughts to "Jesus, Thou Joy Of Loving Hearts."


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