HYMN 237 In Thee is Gladness
German: In dir ist Freude
Icelandic: Ljós ertþú lyði
Text: Johann Lindemann (1549-1631) Tune: Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (1582-1609)
1. In thee is gladness Amid all sadness, Jesus, Daystar of my heart! By thee are given The gifts of heaven, Thou the true Redeemer art! Our souls thou wakest; Our bonds thou breakest. Who trusts thee surely Has built securely And stands forever: Alleluia! Our hearts are longing To see thy dawning. Living or dying, In thee abiding, Naught can us sever: Alleluia!
2. Jesus is ours! We fear no powers, Not of earth or sin or death. He sees and blesses In worst distresses; He can change them with a breath. Wherefore the story— Tell of his glory With hearts and voices; All heaven rejoices In him forever: Alleluia! We shout for gladness, Triumph o'er sadness, Love him and praise him, And still shall raise him Glad hymns forever: Alleluia! Tr. Catherine Winkworth
MEDITATION “Are you an optimist or pessimist?” a student asked one of my college religion professors. He took a sip of coffee, swallowed and answered, “I am a Christian.”
No ifs, ands or buts. That should be our answer now, no matter how wild the virus seems to be going or the world situation seems to be declining. We are Christians. While I tend to be pessimistic--the way human beings are managing the world today can give cause for gloom--but what humanity does to itself is not where a Christian looks for hope. Of course, leadership in this world can be better or worse, wiser or less wise, and those of us long in the tooth may be able to divine how their decisions will go, Christians are called to look to Jesus, he is the one who holds the future in his hands. We believe that in him all will be well. He is the final word, not this world.
As the hymn puts it, “we fear no powers, not of earth or sin or death.” When one is singing that line to this glorious melody, it is easy to say with conviction, but it is harder without the melody.
In my gloomy moments, I think it is possible to imagine that Christians in the West, even, could be in for some testing, maybe even martyrdom. The forces against the Christian faith are strong and seem to be growing. The BBC on May 3, 2019 ran a program saying that Christian persecution is at near genocide levels around the world. In the United States there is the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion. At the same time the culture can oppose expressions of faith enough to silence people who don't want to call attention to their faith. We must remain vigilant on these issues so everyone feels free to say what they believe on any issue at any time.
Whether or not my gloomy side is right, I often have wondered, would I be ready to witness for the Lord with the bravery that I should? What would I say if pressed to tell the truth and confess my faith? Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
His book The Cost of Discipleship frequently refers to Jesus’ talk in Matthew 10 when he sends his disciples on their mission. His commission to them is filled with terrors, but he encourages them to persevere: “When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at the time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:19-20.
That has always been my comfort as I have worried about what I would do under persecution. Lindemann, living during the Reformation conflicts, was no stranger to such threats. Jesus assures us many times that we should not worry—what good will it do, worry can change nothing, he says in Matthew 6:34. In Matthew 10, his advice is even more reassuring: Don’t even think about your answers, or arguments in the face of persecution. The Father will speak through you. So go out and live fully, Glad, as the hymn says, and joyful because it is the Lord who holds the future, not you, the people or the institutions around you.
Something to sing praise for. "We shout for gladness,/Triumph o'er sadness,/Love him and praise him,/And still shall raise him/Glad hymns forever:/Alleluia!"
HYMN INFO Johann Lindemann was born in Gotha and studied at the University of Jena. He became a cantor in his home town. Scholars are not quite sure he wrote this text, but it has had enduring popularity over the centuries. We are not certain when he was born or when he died, but we do know he signed the Formula of Concord in 1577. This hymn appeared first in his Amarum Filii Dei Decades Duae in 1598. The form of the poem was determined by this tune to which it was written. Its fizzy short lines with their tight rhymes make it fun to sing and say. About the composer Gastoldi we know he was a deacon in the chapel of the Gonzaga family in Mantua and a composer much appreciated by his Duke. His madrigals and Ballettos for three to eight voices which are his most well-known works influenced later composers like Monteverdi, Hassler and Morley. Bach wrote a wonderful choral prelude based on it.
LINKS Tabernacle Choir singing Dan Kallman’s arrangement/whistling past the graveyard! https://youtu.be/QQEZVEpGT3w
Hannover Knabenchor/Jazz arrangement/fun https://youtu.be/A6phx6qDkxQ
Concordia Publishing House choir https://youtu.be/wW-bHmiis0M
Theo Jellema/Bach’s Choral prelude BWV 615 https://youtu.be/_xgGBvnShsU
Dresden Vocal Concert https://youtu.be/EyQoH3xwAi8
Benjamin Righetti on the Saint François organ/with colored socks! https://youtu.be/C8wewNU9afE