The text for Joyful Joyful was written by Henry Jackson Van Dyke in 1907, while at Williams college, who expressly insisted it be set to the music of the now much loved “Ode To Joy’, the last movement of Beethoven’s final symphony. It was first published in 1911 in a Presbyterian hymnal. His inspiration, as he related it to the college president, upon presenting him with the hymn, was the Berkshire mountains. Van Dyke also taught at Princeton University in the English department, and was highly educated, seving for a time at Harvard, as well as being a licensed minister of the Presbyterian church. In addition to being and educator and a minister, he was appointed by president Woodrow Wilson to serve as amabassador variously to Luxembourg and The Netherlands.
This joyous and uplifting hymn is perfect for a wedding recessional – the author of this article and his (then) young bride sang it with the congregation as their recessional many years ago. And since I digress and discuss my own wedding, I might add that our bridal processional was Mussorgsky’s Great Gate At Kiev – an unusual choice no doubt, but a majestic and triumphant sounding piece, in case you are looking for an unusual processional. We don’t offer it here yet – as I expect there would be minimal call for it – but someday, who knows.