Ode to Joy

Ludwig van Beethoven composed "Ode to Joy," possibly his greatest symphony, at one of the most difficult times in his life. I bet many of you can hear this symphony in your mind right now. It is the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth and last Symphony.

Beethoven's health was declining, and he was completely deaf when he started this seven year journey to write this symphony.

He took a risk by using a chorus and solo voices in a symphony. He had several misgivings about using words with his music, but for some reason chanced it working. Maybe it was hope in a spectacular outcome.

The words came from a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803. Beethoven even made some additions himself, and the Ninth symphony premiered on May 7, 1824.

I imagine Beethoven clung to hope from the moment he began this journey until the day he first conducted this masterpiece. Because he was completely deaf, he had no idea how the audience felt until Caroline Unger, the contralto, turned him around to witness the audience's ecstatic reaction. I get goosebumps imagining the look on his face.

One of my favorite scriptures on hope comes from Joshua 10:25.

"Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight."

There are many things I'm hoping for this year, and when I become discouraged I turn to God to renew my hope in Him.