Charity and Joy

In 1907, a tune from one of the most loved symphonies in classical music inspires Henry Van Dyke to write a poem. The author’s own commentary on it:

These verses are simple expressions of common Christian feelings and desires in this present time—hymns of today that may be sung together by people who know the thought of the age, and are not afraid that any truth of science will destroy religion, or any revolution on earth overthrow the kingdom of heaven. Therefore this is a hymn of trust and joy and hope.

Your other choice is another Latin text with a multitude of settings–traditional chant, Taizé, Paul Benoit (WLP), and many classical composers through the ages. If you feel this is ganging up on Beethoven and a Presbyterian minister, vote for the higher seed, though likely underdog.

The hymn Ubi Caritas has long resided on Holy Thursday, but the Vatican II reforms nudged it from footwashing to the preparation of the altar and gifts.

The Latin text of verse one:

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exultemus, et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

Which is translated as:

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.

This text is very, very old. Some scholars think it dates to the earliest centuries of Christianity. The theme goes back to the teachings of Christ, especially the example of the Paschal Mystery. But it also is eminently suitable for any observance of vocation, love, and service: marriage, ordination, or some other serious commitment.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in 2012 Dance, Liturgical Music. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Charity and Joy

  1. Liam says:

    If using the tune ODE TO JOY, please please please don’t use the squared-off rip-off, but Beethoven’s anticipated rhythm for the final couplet, like this:

    That anticipation is what makes the whole thing work; removing it is like taking the showpiece pearl out of a golden pendant necklace.

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