Day 19

December 16

December 16

Psalm 146:5-10

5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10 The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!

Our Joy, a Resolute Delight

by Horace J. Maxile, Jr., Ph.D.

“This joy I have, the world didn’t give it to me.
This joy I have, the world didn’t give it to me.
This joy I have, the world didn’t give it to me.
The world didn’t give it. The world can’t take it away.”

This praise chorus is one that I have sung since my childhood, and its message becomes even more clear as I grow older. As with certain praise choruses from Black vernacular musical traditions and contemporary performance practices, words can be substituted to create dynamic and expressive trajectories.

In this song, “love” and “peace” are often substituted after the initial round of “joy” in that particular order for subsequent choruses. In considering the theme of joy in reference to this scripture, thoughts center around this phrase: “whose hope is in the Lord his God who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”

When hope reaches beyond creation and resides with the Creator, seedlings of joy may well take root and sprout. Therefore, this joy I have; this resolute delight in knowing by Whom I live and have my being; this satisfying conviction that interrogates temporal issues through the lens of belief in the Lord God, cannot be given by the world. And, by extension, cannot be taken away by the world, its resources, or its inhabitants.

Some protections and provisions follow in the latter verses, as the psalmist views God as one who executes justice, gives food and freedom, raises the downtrodden, and opens blinded eyes, among other acts. Yes, these are gracious acts of a great God, and I believe a joyous existence and persistence allows us to see such acts of grace in our own lives, even when they may not be readily apparent on the surface.

People, events, and circumstances might make us happy. They may even confirm the goodness and grace of the Source of our joy. But, this joy springs from “hopes on things eternal” and causes us to reflect on such things and the awesome gift of Christ. I have heard a few preachers say, “Happiness is based on happenings, but joy comes from the inside.” This joy fuels my gifts and talents, and it is my strength.

May we find rest in “this joy,” “this love,” and “this peace” and share some of the same with others in this season as well as the days, months and years that follow.

Joy... what a humbling gift.

Learn More About Our Guest Writer

Horace J. Maxile, Jr., Ph.D.Horace J. Maxile, Jr., Ph.D.

Horace J. Maxile, Jr., Ph.D., is a national research leader on the works of Black composers. Dr. Maxile researches the concert music of African-American composers, gospel music, and musical semiotics.

An Associate Professor of Music Theory, Dr. Maxile holds the Ph.D. in Musicology (Music Theory emphasis) from Louisiana State University. Prior to his appointment at Baylor, he taught at The University of North Carolina at Asheville and served as Associate Director of Research at the Center for Black Music Research (Columbia College Chicago). Among his publications are articles in Perspectives of New Music, The Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Black Music Research Journal, Journal for the Society of American Music, and American Music. He was Associate Editor of the Encyclopedia of African-American Music (Greenwood Press, 2011). He has served as Editor of the Black Music Research Journal, chair of the Society for Music Theory Committee on Diversity, and as a member of the American Musicological Society Council.