Welcome!  Hymns have been and continue to be a real source of inspiration to me.  My desire in this blog is to share special hymns with my readers hoping that the words will minister to them, especially in times of great personal need.  If one of these hymns ministers to you, please take time to leave a comment so that I know that my blog is helping others as much as it helps me. Sometimes I will also provide a link where you can go to hear the hymn played.  So, please join me here each week and sing along as we praise God together.

Sunday, September 18, 2022


            This beautiful old hymn speaks so eloquently of who our Lord is experientially - joy of loving hearts, fount of life, light of men, truth unchanged, living bread, the fountain-head, our strength and stay.
          This hymn, generally attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, was translated from the Latin in 1858. It was a loose paraphrase rather than a strict translation done by Dr. Ray Palmer, a Congregational pastor from Albany, New York.  Some say that the hymn as we know it was written by both Bernard of Clairvaux and Palmer.  Dr. Palmer also wrote several hymns on his own, probably the best known being "My Faith Looks Up to Thee."
          Bernard of Clairvaux was born to well-to-do parents in central France, in what is known as burgundy wine country, near Dijon.  A nobleman by birth, he didn't grow up as a spoiled rich kid.  Actually, his parents, especially his mother, Aleth, taught him the virtues of justice, mercy, and affection for others.
          His mother's death, when he was seventeen, affected Bernard profoundly.  He began to experience a more profound conversion and a call to study theology.  He entered a Benedictine monastery in 1112 A.D.  His talent was soon recognized, and three years later he was asked to establish a monastery at Clairvaux.  That was a successful venture, and a number of other monasteries were established throughout France under his leadership. 
The monastic life was often one of withdrawal. Monks had their own communities, which were largely self-sufficient. There they could work and pray in relative solitude. But Bernard broke out of that system and became an unusually public figure for a monk. He challenged popes and political leaders to live righteously. He urged professors to teach truth. He launched evangelistic campaigns. He became a confidant of Popes and a preacher to the King of France. 
         In spite of these remarkable achievements, the focus of his life remained twofold, knowing God and serving the needy.
            Even though this hymn was written almost 900 years ago and translated about 150 years ago, we can appreciate the writer's and translator's yearning and appreciation of the Lord.
           "Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts," like many hymns, is a prayer, in this case, a prayer to Jesus.  It celebrates the joy that we have in Jesus, the peace that his love imparts, and the filling of our souls.  It concludes with a prayer for Christ's continuing presence:
"O Jesus, ever with us stay; make all our moments calm and bright; oh, chase the night of sin away, shed o'er the world thy holy light.
          Is Jesus the joy of your heart?  Do you find Him good?  Is He your all in all?

1     O Jesus, joy of loving hearts,
thou fount of life, thou light of men,
from fullest bliss that earth imparts
we turn unfilled to thee again,
we turn unfilled to thee again.
2     Thy truth unchanged has 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,
to them that find thee, all in all.
3     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,
and thirst our souls from thee to fill.
4     Our restless spirits yearn for thee,
where'er our changeful lot is cast,
glad that thy gracious smile we see,
blest that our faith can hold thee fast,
blest that our faith can hold thee fast.
5     O Jesus, ever 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,
shed o'er the world thy holy light.
Listen to it here:  JOY

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