Ode To Joy

adapted/arr. Paul Jennings

Not only was Ludwig van Beethoven the most acclaimed composer of the Classical Period, he has often been discussed as the finest composer ever. It is also often said that he is the most performed composer ever. We sing his praise this December as we celebrate his 250th birthday on December 17.

To honor this auspicious occasion, we have arranged the "Ode To Joy" from the finale of his renowned 9th Symphony. Originally taken from Friedrich Schiller's "Ode To Joy" in German, this libretto has been rewritten many times in many languages. Most were not attempts at even rough translations. For our version, we have adapted the fairly well-known English lyrics by Henry van Dyke who used the melody for his "Hymn To Joy."

We have also adapted Beethoven's finale to the symphony making it primarily a vocal work but also foreshortening the ending a bit. It should make a powerful finale to any performance year round. The second part is optional and we have included a rehearsal track, as well as a full unison version on our web site.

A Creativity Exercise - As we mentioned, many people have written new lyrics to this theme. Consider doing this with your students, as a guided creative lesson for a whole class, or break up in smaller units of two, four, or more students, creating new spirited lyrics to try. You should probably keep it to one verse, but there are no rules. You may even let them design their own odes: "Ode To Lunch," "Ode To Water," "Ode To Vets," or "Ode To Pie." The possibilities are endless, and kids will have fun extolling funny or unusual things.

By all means, perform your works if you can, and discuss them. Performing something you have created is very healthy and will spur on creativity for the future. Did someone say "Ode To Pizza"?

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.