“Great Joyousness”

I’m reading a biography on Beethoven at the moment (free on Kindle, by the way!). And it’s really good.

The interesting thing about Beethoven is that, whether or not he was a Christian (and I don’t think he was), he had quite a few very Christian attributes in his character. The man was unique, and saw the world, and interacted with the world like a Christian should in many ways.

Here’s what Fischer says about Beethoven, about the joy Beethoven had in the midst of sorrows, heartbreak, and failing health. You find loud echoes of this in Chesterton and Lewis too, if you’re familiar with their perspectives on God-given, Christian joy.

“[Beethoven’s] journal entries tell the story. One day, exulting in life and its possibilities he writes, ‘Oh, it would be glorious to live life over a thousand times.’ At another time he calls upon his God in abject despair to help him through the passing hour…Like all highly organized people he sounded the gamut of joy and sorrow. ‘He has among other qualities that of great joyousness,’ says Carlyle, in speaking of Richter. ‘Goethe has it to some extent and Schiller too. It is a deep laughter, a wild laughter, and connected with it, there is the deepest seriousness.'”

Compare this with the Psalms, where David and the other psalmists write from both the mountain tops, and the deep, dark valleys of human experience. I really think this is a very Christian honesty with what it means to live in this fallen world. A Christian should be characterized by a “great joyousness” that’s deeply serious and grounded in an honest, humble view of living in a not-completely-redeemed reality. But our joy can have the “deepest seriousness” because we know redemption and restoration are coming with our King when He returns.


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