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Hymn of the Week: “O Be Joyful in the Lord”

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The 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

“O Be Joyful in the Lord” was written by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt in the late 19th century. Hewitt was an educator who developed a spinal malady that kept her from the classroom and led to her becoming a recluse. She used her time to study English literature, until she felt a need to be of use to her church and began writing poetry.

She went on to teach Sunday school and took on an active role in the Philadelphia Elementary Union, eventually becoming Superintendent of the primary department of Calvin Presbyterian Church. However, even with all these responsibilities, Hewitt still found time to write more than 1800 poems, the vast majority of which were turned into hymns.

The text of Hewitt’s poem was set to a melody by composer Wm. J. Kirkpatrick, best known for supplying the melody for the Christmas carol “Away in a Manger.”

A different choral hymn by the same title, which comes from Psalm 100, is featured above. It was composed and conducted by John Rutter and performed by the Cambridge Singers.

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