Posted by: rcottrill | August 18, 2014

Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts

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Words: Bernard of Clairvaux (b. _____, 1091; d. Aug. 21, 1153); English translation, Ray Palmer (b. Nov. 12, 1808; d. Mar. 29, 1887)
Music: Hesperus (also called Quebec), by Henry Baker (b. June 6, 1835; d. Feb. 1, 1910)

Wordwise Hymns (Bernard of Clairvaux)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The hymn was written around 1150. It is not absolutely certain that Bernard wrote it. However, evidence is sufficient that most hymnals recognize him as the author. There are a number of tunes that suit this beautiful hymn–several mentioned in the Cyber Hymnal. One not found there, which also works well, is Rimington.

A little information on Bernard can be found on the Wordwise link, and on the other links as well. The hymn is taken from the lengthy poem of forty-two four-line stanzas titled, Jesu Dulcis Memoria. Ray Palmer’s translation of the Latin original was published in 1858. Much credit goes to Dr. Palmer for his selection of stanzas to be used and the ordering of them (stanzas 4, 3, 20, 28 and 10 of the original), and for his fine paraphrasing of them.

This is a truly great and passionate hymn. Historian Philip Schaff calls it “the sweetest and most evangelical hymn of the Middle Ages.” It is the kind of expression we would expect from Bernard, who loved Christ passionately. He wrote, “If thou writest, nothing therein has savour to me unless I read Jesus in it.”

In CH-1 and 3, Bernard’s hymn gives the Lord Jesus Christ a number of significant titles (identified with capital letters). They are each supported by Scripture. He is the Joy of loving hearts (I Pet. 1:8), the Fount of life (Jn. 11:25)), the Light of men (Jn. 1:4; 8:12), the living Bread (Jn. 6:51), and the Fountainhead (Jn. 7:37-38).

CH-1) Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

The Lord Jesus said, “I am…the truth” (Jn. 14:6), the embodiment of truth, both about God, and about God’s ideal for man. He was also the great Communicator of God’s truth. “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17), and the Word of God is just as truly the Word of Christ (Col. 3:16). In believing the truth revealed, there is salvation and abundant and joyful life in Him. Jesus said, ““These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn. 15:11).

CH-2) 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.

Christ is the Christians supreme Resource, by the will of God the Father, and the agency of the Holy Spirit. “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst’” (Jn. 6:35). And we’re promised, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

CH-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.

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:9). “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (I Pet. 1:8). Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers, “That Christ may dwell in [be welcome, and settle down and be at home in] your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17).

CH-4) Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

The Lord Jesus Himself promised His continuing presence with us. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). In Christ, there is abiding spiritual light. “He [God the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13)–who said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).

CH-5) O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

1) What is it about this outstanding hymn that most impresses you?

2) Have you found in Christ this kind of joy and fullness? (If not, why not?)

Wordwise Hymns (Bernard of Clairvaux)
The Cyber Hymnal


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