A Hymn of Praise

A Hymn of Praise

Boys and girls, today we are going to sing a hymn of praise to God from our hymnbook, Number—

Now, if you will look at the top of the page, in the right-hand corner, you will see the name of the famous musician who composed the tune we will be singing. His name is Ludwig von Beethoven. You will see that this tune comes to us from the land of Germany.

Beethoven wrote nine famous symphonies. I am sure you have heard many of them played by great orchestras, perhaps in your sym­phony hall, or on the radio or on television, or you may have one of Beethoven's symphonies on your records at home.

This is how this tune was composed. One day Beethoven read a poem called "Ode to Joy" written by a famous German poet by the name of Schiller. This so inspired Beethoven that he wrote his "Ninth Symphony" from which is taken the rune of the hymn we will be singing.

Mr. Beethoven gave this music to the public audience for the first time over one hundred years ago in Vienna. He stood facing the orchestra with his baton and led the musicians in playing this great symphony of joy. Perhaps you remember that Beethoven himself was stone deaf and did not hear his own music while it was being played. Neither did he hear the people stamping,

cheering, and whistling with delight because they were so excited with his wonderful music. The audience was in an uproar of joy. Beethoven, because he was facing the orchestra and was deaf, did not know what was happening until someone took him by the shoulder and turned him face about where he could see the excited audience. Now the people were standing, some on their seats, waving their arms and clapping, and many of them melting in tears because they recognized that Mr. Beethoven, himself, could not hear any of the wonderful music he had written.

The beautiful words of this hymn were written by Henry van Dyke, a teacher at Princeton University. He was staying in the Berkshire Hills in Massachusetts at Williams College when the words of this beautiful hymn came to him. He had just heard the music of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Van Dyke thought the music was so
beautiful that it should be used as a hymn to sing in church.

As you sing this hymn today, remember that the words were writ­ten by an American, the music by a German, and that it is a song of great joy because all who love God are happy in their hearts.

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