Hymn #310 in Celebrating Grace Hymnal — “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”
[pullquote_center width=”80%”]Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother — all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.[/pullquote_center]
The writing in this modern text (penned in 1907) is all beautiful; but this verse is pure genius. Let’s look for a minute at the contrasting attributes of God: God is both giving and for-giving, giving to us and allowing our lapses in giving to be wiped away. God is ever blessing the creation, and continually being blest by it, enjoying what constitutes a true relationship of give and take with us. God is described as a spring, source of refreshing and renewal; and as an ocean, unfathomably deep and disappearing into the horizon. My feeling is of God as both rushing, lively water, and as the comforting depth of water, joy and rest.
We are also reminded of our relationship as family — god as both Parent and Brother, family with all who dwell in love. And what a family that is, if we acknowledge the existence of all these brothers and sisters! The plea we share with van Dyke is for God to sanctify our earthly joy by teaching us love. May we all be willing students in the family!