I recently watched a YouTube video of a concert with 10,000 people singing Ludwig van Beethoven’s masterful composition “Ode to Joy,” from his Symphony No. 9. One viewer noted how universal the quest for peace and joy is, describing the concert as “a Romanian guy presenting in English a German song sung by 10,000 Japanese people on French TV.”
Beethoven’s great praise of joy, whose words were adapted from a poem by German writer Friedrich Schiller, has been sung many times as a celebration of humanity’s high ideals and innate desire for peace. It was played on makeshift loudspeakers during the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, performed during German reunification festivities after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and presented at the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan. This recent video of so many folks from so many backgrounds singing about joy and peace struck me as showing the great need for Christ Jesus’ profoundly spiritual command, “Love one another” (John 13:34).
One could say that the idea of loving others, as Jesus loved us, is an all-embracing prayer for mankind, one that has a much deeper meaning than just to be generous or compassionate. It rests on the spiritual facts of being—the relation of God to man, and man’s expression of divine Love.