Sing the Songs of Christmas: We Adore Thee

Editor’s Note: The Christmas season is now in full swing, and to celebrate the release of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s Advent devotional The First Songs of Christmas, here on blog we thought we’d share a few of our favorite Christmas songs. Also, check out the new Christmas playlist created by our team, available on Spotify or YouTube. Several of our blogger favorites are included! —Laura Elliott

My grandfather had a side his NASA coworkers never saw. To them, he was a hardworking engineer with a dry sense of humor. To us, his family, he was Good King Wenceslas, donning a gold robe that had been rescued from Grandma’s get-rid-of pile more than once. Every year, he would disappear into his bedroom, as grandchildren scurried to take their positions behind the piano or across the living room rug. Then he’d make his grand entrance, singing the most obscure verses of the lesser known Christmas tune—to the absolute delight of his audience.

On any of those December nights, if you had driven past my grandparents’ house and peeked into the bright lights of their living room, you would have seen him standing at the piano, trying hard to maintain a dramatic expression. Beside him on the bench, a piano-playing grandchild would no longer have her hands on the keys. It may have been her year to join the family tradition, but she’d be giggling too hard to read the sheet music. 

It’s one of my favorite ways to remember my grandfather, so serious and silly and sincere all at the same time. I wish everyone could have known him that way. To know my grandpa was to love him. We adored him. 

When he was in his final days, no longer able to emerge from his bedroom, my family gathered together in his living room, lit only by the shadows of midday. We told and retold stories from his life, each one shedding light on different parts, some familiar, others new. No detail was too small or obscure to share. As I listened to stories that affirmed his character, I realized what a gift it was to get to love a man like that. 

Hymn of Joy

Growing up, before my cousins and I learned to play “Good King Wenceslas” on the piano, my grandma taught us “Ode to Joy” by Ludwig van Beethoven. As recognizable as the tune is, most of us are more familiar with another version. In 1907, poet Henry van Dyke shared a few lines of his new hymn, which he had written to accompany Beethoven’s melody:

Joyful, joyful, we adore You,
God of glory, Lord of love
Hearts unfold like flowers before You,
Opening to the sun above.

“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” is a hymn that can be sung year round, but during the holiday season, it often gets worked into Christmas medlies. But unlike many other hymns, its lyrics aren’t an invitation into adoration; instead, they joyfully affirm the worshiper’s already existing love for Christ.

Write Your Delight

The closer we get to Christmas, the more our activities begin to wrap up for the calendar year. Bible reading plans are coming to an end. Pastors are finishing their sermon series, and small groups are going on hiatus until January. This year we’ve participated in activities where we opened up God’s Word, whether privately or with His people. Those moments provided opportunities to get to know the Lord better. And to know Him is to love Him.

When our knowledge about the Lord grows, so does our admiration and affection for Him. We want to remember the details that caused us to delight ever deeper in Jesus. When better to reflect on and record those moments than in the heart of the Christmas season?

Grab your journal or pull up a blank Word document on your computer, and consider how you’d answer these questions:

  • What did you learn about Him this year that made your heart grow fonder of Christ? 
  • What did you come across in Scripture that made you love the Lord more? 
  • What did you learn about Jesus that made your heart sing?

If you’re not sure how to get started or if you’re looking for ways to expand your answers, you can use the lyrics to “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” as a resource. I’ve listed some of the lines from the song below, along with Scripture verses that align with the lyrics to help you get started. And if you have an opportunity to share your answers with a friend or family member, take it! What a joy it is to share our love for Jesus with people we care about. What a gift it is to love a God like ours.

Joyful, Joyful

God of Glory, Lord of Love,

  • He melts our clouds of sin and sadness. 
    • “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:4).
  • He drives the dark of doubt away. 
    • “I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
  • He is the giver of immortal gladness. 
    • “The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up” (Psalm 19:8). 
  • He fills us with the light of day. 
    • “LORD, You light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness” (Psalm 18:28).

Loving Father, Christ Our Brother, 

  • He always gives and forgives. 
    • “For you, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, abounding in faithful love to all who call on you” (Psalm 86:5). 
  • He ever blesses and is ‘ever-blest.’
    • “Happy are the people with such blessings. Happy are the people whose God is the LORD” (Psalm 144:15).
  • He is the wellspring of joy.
    • “Singers and dancers alike will say, ‘My whole source of joy is in you’” (Psalm 87:7).
  • He is an ocean-depth of happy rest. 
    • “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him” (Psalm 62:1).
  • He shines His light upon us.
    • “Light shines in the darkness for the upright. He is gracious, compassionate, and righteous” (Psalm 112:3–5).
  • He teaches us how to love each other.
    • “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another” (1 John 4:9–11).
  • He lifts us to the joy divine.
    • “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you because you have redeemed me” (Psalm 71:23). 

We Adore Thee

When I think back to Christmas celebrations when I was younger, I realize I didn’t know where all of the joy came from. Decades later, especially now that we’ve spent several years without my grandfather, I’ve become more aware that it was his deep delight in Christ that spilled onto the rest of us, joyful, joyful

May our adoration of Christ be just as contagious, ourhearts unfolding like flowers before Him. May we belike little girls at His feet, giggling in His presence, delighted by His love.

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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