Isaiah 49:13a – Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! (NIV)
Let us look in on the Plaza de Sant Roc de Sabadell, Barcelona, Spain. There stands a man with his bass fiddle poised to start playing his instrument. A young girl approaches the man's hat on the ground and drops in a coin. The man draws his bow across and begins playing a few notes. The scene unfolds as a woman enters, sits near the man and begins playing her cello. As she picks up the musical theme of "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, various instrumentalists converge on the group until there are violins, woodwinds, a brass ensemble, a kettle drum, a conductor, and singers. The music is rendered with a gradual increase of intensity as each instrument and voice is added. The reaction of the people gathering around goes from astonishment to outright elation of young and old alike.
My response to this flash mob performance was an outpouring of joy as I began to rejoice in the Lord by singing the first verse of the hymn Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, penned by Henry Van Dyke to the music of Beethoven:
- Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away,
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!
Reflecting on the beautiful words of this hymn, I see hearts unfolding like a musical crescendo: a gradual lifting of our spirits to God through the ministry of song. For example, consider the intensity of the following verses:
Psalm 100:2 – Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. (NIV)
Psalm 71:23 – My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you — I, whom you have redeemed. (NIV)
Psalm 32:11 – Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! (NIV)
Worshipful music has the ability to tear down worldly barriers and soften our hearts to God's Spirit. Let us begin by offering the fruit of our lips as we increase our worship to experience the fullness of His joy.
Come before Him; shout for joy! Rejoice!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come to You with thanksgiving and praise for Your loving kindness and tender mercies. May we have joyful hearts as we begin this day with You. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.