A Hymn: O Christ, Our Joy and Gladness

Below you will find a link to the score of the hymn I wrote, O Christ, our  Joy and Gladness.  I am grateful to Lorna Russell  for inscribing it so beautifully.

Also below, you will find an audio link to the anthem version of the hymn.  The inspiring music to both the hymn and the anthem versions was composed by Carlton Russell. The anthem is gracefully sung by the choir of St Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church, Blue Hill, Maine.

The first stanza of the anthem that the choir sings is, essentially, the tune setting for all three verses of the hymn. I am delighted to share this with you; all rights reserved, of course. Thank you.

By way of introduction, here is the hymn text and, after each verse, a brief commentary on my personal theology that informs the piece:

O Christ, our joy and gladness,

O Dayspring of our night.

We come with fear and sadness

at Easter dawns first light:

The stone is laid aside,

Deaths wrappings now lie useless,

O wondrous  Eastertide!

O wondrous Eastertide!

I have always been interested in joy. We were made for joy, which is to say we were created really to share in the life of the divine, to  experience a truly joyful exchange of properties in God — my neediness in exchange for God’s sheer grace. It’s more than just knowing about this  or simply imagining  what it must be like for a few special others to experience union with God. No, I believe I am meant to abide in God through  Christ myself and to recognize it in others when it’s there. This deep knowing is meant for all of us. 

Studying and applying scripture to my life has always been a trusted way to discover, orient and deepen my life in God. (This text is a meditation on the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John.) So, when the  biblical figures come and go in the Bible, I believe we are to come and go with them, as well.  I go gladly, and thus Mary has a companion on her forlorn early morning walk. I have walked that dark way also, many times, and I am consoled to know that I can pass this way with so great a lover as Mary.  I’m drawn to the mystery, the drama, the irony and the promise in all that happened to the first people who experienced Easter, and it’s where I want to be  spiritually all the time. 

With Mary, weve stood weeping,

not knowing you are there,

With death a vigil keeping,

hearts half-set on despair.

Now, lifes no more the same:

as once you spoke to Mary,

You call us each by name.

You call us each by name.

“ Not knowing you are there“ —  that is for so much of the time my own sad state of affairs. When will I finally really trust that reaching the divine is simply a matter of knowing that God is already there? In fact, we are not meant to  ‘reach’ at all –  it’s when we simply let go  that we find we are enveloped. From the depths of our isolating pre-occupations and our constant busyness and consuming anxieties  we are called out, called away, called by name.

For me this grace comes at moments, in the midst of music, in nature often, in study sometimes, in private prayer, in personal encounters, in common praise at eucharist. But mostly it comes first in stillness, as it came to Mary, then in mystery, then by surprise. It is there for me constantly; and yet I grasp it so rarely.

If only we listen for it,  this precious gift, our own name spoken with profound love, and take account of who it is who so intimately seeks us. The redress for all my longings, standing right there, calling me, and I am too intent on my festering distractions, my lingering disappointments, my stifling discouragements! Yet, I do believe that, as once you spoke to Mary, you still speak to me: that is enough promise for me to last a lifetime.

Rabboni, Teacher, Savior,

You ask us now to go

by voice and by behavior

to tell all what we know.

Enlightened by your Word,

well share our joy and gladness,

for, We have seen the Lord!

for, “We have seen the Lord!”

There is no promise that does not also come with a commission. It’s all about what we do with it, this precious gift of seeing, and knowing, and dwelling within. Always, this joy-laden grace is meant to be experienced fully — and then to be given away.

© Edward R. Dufresne, 2018

HYMN O Christ, our joy and gladness – Full Score

4 Thoughts on “A Hymn: O Christ, Our Joy and Gladness

  1. Beautifully done!

  2. Virginia Drewry on April 30, 2018 at 1:42 pm said:

    Such a delight to hear its debut and see you at St. Francis by the Sea for the unfolding!

  3. Ed, your hymn is really beautiful, as its musical setting!
    As I always seem to be rushing off somewhere, I can’t adequately express in the few minutes I have right now, my admiration for your writing and the thoughts expressed therein—-so direct, unmannered, elegant, lovely and vocally grateful. More, more!
    And continued wishes and prayers for your recuperation.

  4. Anne Stribling on June 5, 2018 at 11:33 am said:

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m sure the Saint Francis parishioners found it as lovely as I do, even after Eastertide!

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