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“Christ, We Come with Joy and Gladness”

TITLE:"Christ, We Come with Joy and Gladness"
AUTHOR: Constance M. Cherry
COMPOSER: Ludwig van Beethoven
SOURCE: Worship & Song, no. 3175
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 23:1-3; Ecclesiastes 4:12; John 10:14; Ephesians 4:3-4
TOPIC: Blessing; care; hope; joy/rejoicing; love; marriage; trust; unity; witness


When a congregation of friends and family comes together to celebrate, affirm, and witness the marriage of a couple, it often does so silently in the pews of a church. This hymn allows the congregation to take a more active role in the worship service.

Constance Cherry, a native of Michigan, has been a musician, worship leader, pastor, and professor. Her education includes a B.A. in music from Huntington University, a Master of Music from Bowling Green State University, and the Doctor of Ministry in Christian Worship from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, where she studied with Robert Webber. She is Professor of Worship and Christian Ministries at Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Indiana, where she directs the major in Christian Worship. Since 2000, she has served on the faculty of the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies located in Jacksonville, Florida, traveling there twice yearly to teach. In addition, she teaches worship at institutions of higher education in several countries, most recently in the Master’s program at the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (Evangelical Theological Faculty) in Leuven, Belgium (2008, 2010, and 2012). She is ordained in The United Methodist Church and is an active teacher, speaker, composer, and author. Her most recent books include The Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services (Baker Academic, 2010) and Selecting Worship Songs: A Guide for Leaders (Triangle Publishing, 2011). An as-yet untitled book on worship is scheduled for release by Baker Academic in early 2013. The author writes of "Christ, We Come with Joy and Gladness":

I do believe that weddings are occasions for Christian corporate worship, and often the congregation is left with little to do in the liturgy. Wedding hymns are a great way of helping to capture the wedding as a worship event. I wrote this hymn in 1982 for my brother's wedding. It also now appears in the recent Baptist hymnal by Mercer Press released in 2010.

In addition to the hymn, "Christ, We Come with Joy and Gladness," Constance Cherry has contributed the following worship resources to Worship & Song:

  • 62, Wondrous God, our hearts are full of praise
  • 63, Our hearts are full of praise, O God
  • 64, God of all creation, we come with grateful hearts
  • 65, Jesus said, "Come unto me"
  • 66, Lord of all nations, you hold this fragile world
  • 67, Jesus Christ, Lord of the Church: we rejoice
  • 94, God of all creation, you are pure and holy
  • 95, Eternal God, we are grateful that you have led us

In the musical pantheon of composers, no one stands higher than Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Beethoven inherited and mastered the considerable body of work in the classical forms from the likes of Mozart and Haydn (with whom Beethoven studied) and expanded their form and concept to new dimensions, bringing to their maturity the classical sonata, concerto, string quartet and symphony. He also composed songs, trios, quintets, numerous works for solo instruments and orchestra, two masses, an opera, and much more. He was a profoundly important force in the transformation of the Classical Period to the Romantic Era in music. The melody of this hymn can be traced back to a Mozart motet; Beethoven used it in several of his earlier works prior to prominently and powerfully using it as the theme for the finale of his Ninth Symphony in 1824. Beethoven's theme was arranged as a hymn tune by Edward Hodges (1796-1867) and published in 1864. Hodges earned a Mus.D. degree from Cambridge in 1825 and was active as a composer and organist. He relocated to Canada and served as organist of the Toronto Cathedral in 1838, moving one year later to become organist at St. John's Episcopal Church and Trinity Episcopal Church. The tune was first included in a Methodist Hymnal in 1935.


The HYMN TO JOY tune is a well-known, often-sung favorite of worshipers. The rise and fall of the melody, the steady march of the quarter note rhythm, and the satisfying sense of resolve at the cadences all contribute to the tune's appeal. Part of the power of Beethoven's theme derives from the anticipatory syncopation at the start of the fourth phrase, a feature that was retained in an early use of the tune in an 1846 collection by Elam Ives. But by the time of Hodges' 1864 adaptation and its publication in our 1935 hymnal, the syncopation had been squared off into regular 4/4 time. Not without controversy, Beethoven's original syncopation was restored in the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal (no. 89). Hymnal editor Carlton Young writes of this restoration:

Its use as a hymn tune has not been without some complaining -- most concerning why Beethoven's syncopation at the beginning of the fourth line is flattened out. Its restoration in our hymnal has spawned complaints from those for whom congregational song is devoid of surprises – and resurrection!

The syncopation has been retained in Worship & Song, and the tune serves as a fitting setting for this joyful hymn of celebration.


Stanza one of Constance Cherry's text begins with the love of a couple about to be joined in marriage, recognizing that the love they share will be made new through that act. It is their union with each other and Christ that joins and binds them, now made stronger through Christ's presence.

Stanza two prays for the couple's experience of hope, joy, love, and success and for Christ to tend, keep, and bring the couple peace and care, as a Shepherd. The concluding phrase is rich and noble: As the couple shows love to and for each other, their love will also spread God's love to the world.


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