Beethoven’s Joy

BeethovenMost musicologists would agree that Ludwig van Beethoven was a premiere musician and composer. More than 150 years after his death, his music still inspires and entertains. His Ninth Symphony has been hailed by some as perhaps his finest work. It is all instrumental until near the end when one single baritone voice comes in chanting “Joy, joy…” (Actually it is in German so the word is freude, but it means “joy.”) Soon others join in until an entire chorus of voices is singing, “Joy, joy…”

The first time the Ninth Symphony was ever performed it generated such enthusiasm that when the “Joy” section crescendoed, it was almost as though someone gave a command for the audience to rise to their feet and cheer. They applauded clamorously, but Beethoven did not even notice. Finally one of the singers leaned over and tapped Beethoven on the shoulder to show him. The reason he had not heard the commotion was simple: he was deaf. In fact, at that point he had been deaf for ten years.

I’m a mediocre musician, but I know lots of really talented musicians. I cannot even fathom what it must have been like for a musician the caliber of Beethoven to be deaf for ten years. He easily could have said that he was going to wait for more favorable circumstances in order to write about and exercise joy, but he didn’t. Instead, even in the midst of what was seemingly the very worst that life had to offer, he still chose to express the joy that God had given. Beethoven had made the decision to live above life’s circumstances by choosing to walk in joy.

(Excerpted from Worshiping God in the Hard Times, by Tom Kraeuter, ©2009 Training Resources, Inc., Hillsboro, Missouri. Get your copy at
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