In praise of... Ode to Joy and a flashmob

The quality of our joy depends on the spring from which it is drawn. Where do we seek our joy? How does it come and go?

Last night I tweeted those words, part of a longer quote written by Janet Erskine Stuart RSCJ. Within a few minutes someone had replied that he was being inspired by listening to the BBC's Proms, and specifically Schiller's Ode to Joy, which is part of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. The poem is, for me, a collection of strange, seemingly unconnected words and phrases, as if Schiller were grappling desperately with the sheer impossibility of describing something as mysterious, gratuitous and at times elusive as pure joy. But it is a beautiful, uplifting piece of music, one I cannot listen to without smiling and swaying; like true joy it's highly infectious and I went to bed with it dancing around in my head.

Looking through YouTube today I came across this video of an Ode to Joy flashmob. I love the way in which the music starts quietly, almost imperceptibly, in true flashmob style, building up, as the orchestra builds up, sound upon sound, a rapturous cresecendo of volume and life reaching its zenith and bubbling over by the end. That is how true joy can be - appearing quietly, as if from nowhere, increasing and spilling over, as it surely must - when it is drawn from a spring which is eternal and deep.

Of course, the music has to stop, the joyful high has to fade; but it remains imprinted as a memory, dancing one to bed and on to the next day...


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I watched it with my mother and we felt compelled to clap at the end. I believe my life is better for having seen it.


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