I never thought that I would say this but sometimes, it takes watching a Hollywood movie before we understand the true meaning of an old hymn.
This weekend, I was watching the movie Sister Act 2’s rendition of the famous hymn by Henry van Dyke: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”.
I am sure that I have watched this movie before, and have sung this hymn in Church, but the thing that caught my attention this time was when the singers on stage sang the verse “Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee”.
To musically demonstrate their point about this verse, the singers swung out their hands exuberantly, first in a full 180 degrees horizontal move, then a similar swing, only this time, it was executed vertically. They were no doubt demonstrating the unfolding of hearts and the blooming of flowers as part of their dance moves.
Prior to that verse, the singers were referring to joy and adoration for the Lord:
“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;”
It struck me that joy itself is not a static emotion, it is an expressive one. When one is joyful, it is as though their heart is bursting at its “seams” and they are unable to contain it within themselves! No wonder people usually can’t help smiling when in the company of a joyful person. There is delight and excitement brimming in a joyful person’s heart, as van Dyke expresses so beautifully in his uplifting hymn.
Jesus is the true source of our joy. This joy is neither temporary nor dependent on our circumstances. In fact, in spite of our circumstances, we can still experience this joy and lead a fulfilling life if we follow Him and walk by the Spirit.
Indeed, joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))
Psalm 100:1-2 (KJV):
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”