Posted by: rcottrill | December 27, 2013

You May Have the Joy Bells

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Words: J. Edwin [or Edward] Ruark (b. _____, 1849; d. _____, 1914)
Music: William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This song was published in 1899. We know nothing more about the author of the text. Likely this is simply one of many offerings passed on to William Kirkpatrick to see if he’d be willing to write a tune to fit. He may or may not have been personally acquainted with Mr. Ruark.

CH-1) You may have the joy-bells ringing in your heart,
And a peace that from you never will depart;
Walk the straight and narrow way,
Live for Jesus ev’ry day,
He will keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.

Joy-bells ringing in your heart,
Joy-bells ringing in your heart;
Take the Saviour here below
With you ev’rywhere you go;
He will keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.

This is a song about living a victorious and joyful Christian life. The author says we should live righteously (“walk the straight and narrow way”), and live for Jesus (CH-1). We should show the love of Jesus to others, speak kindly and do deeds of mercy (CH-2). God is with us in times of trial, and He will give sufficient grace to deal with life’s challenges (CH-3). Be a good representative of Christ, and own Him as Lord of your life. A good testimony (a pure and clean life) can be the means of drawing others to the Saviour (CH-4).

CH-2) Love of Jesus in its fullness you may know;
And this love to those around you sweetly show;
Words of kindness always say;
Deeds of mercy do each day,
Then He’ll keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.

Though this is not a complete picture, it highlights some things well deserving of our attention. Living this way will bring the joy of the Lord to our hearts. The wellspring from which true joy flows is a conscious awareness of fellowship with God, and of the presence and power of God in one’s life. Once experienced, any diminishing of that closeness brings pain and sorrow. Knowing the Lord will be central to the believer’s joy. Consider what the Bible says.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10). “[You are] kept by the power of God through faith for salvation….In this you greatly rejoice.” That salvation is found in “Christ, whom having not seen you love….[and in whom] believing you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (I Pet. 1:5-8). “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him” (Ps. 28:7).

Appropriately, the birth of Christ brought the shepherds, “tidings of great joy” (Lk. 2:10). And as the wise men came from the East, seeking the newborn King, “they saw the star, [and] they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (Matt. 2:10). Later, when the crucified Saviour rose from the dead, His followers “ran quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy” (Matt. 28:8). There was a similar response to the good news of salvation in Christ. When Philip preached in Samaria, “there was great joy in the city” (Acts 8:5, 8).

Even facing opposition, the early Christians were found “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). That is in keeping with the teaching of the Lord Jesus: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12). This is where it becomes evident that spiritual joy is not merely a response to pleasurable events. In spite of suffering, believers in every age have been able to rejoice in service for Christ.

CH-3) You will meet with trials as you journey home;
Grace sufficient He will give to overcome;
Though unseen by mortal eye,
He is with you ever nigh,
And He’ll keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.

CH-4) Let your life speak well of Jesus ev’ry day;
Own His right to ev’ry service you can pay;
Sinners you can help to win
If your life is pure and clean,
And you keep the joy-bells ringing in your heart.

1) What is the opposite of Christian joy, and what is its cause?

2) Of the things that Ruark mentions as bringing joy, what is (or are) the most important?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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