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Joy: Fruits of the Spirit 3

To explore the meaning of ‘joy’.

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore the meaning of ‘joy’.

Preparation and materials

  • Three readers.
  • Entry music – ‘Ode to Joy’ by Beethoven (available to download), the last movement of his Ninth symphony.


Start with the song ‘Give me joy in my heart’ (based on ‘Give me oil in my lamp’). Make sure you sing the verses using the words and the order below – otherwise change the assembly around to fit your version of the song.

  1. Today’s song is all about living with joy, and keeping joy within our hearts. The entrance music you heard is by Beethoven and is called ‘Ode to Joy’. It is used as the anthem for the European Union and is based on a poem by Friedrich Schiller that talks about the joys and wonderful things that await you in heaven.
  2. Interestingly, when you type the word joy into ‘Google’, the first entry you get is ‘Joy the Store’: a new and trendy clothes store. Does that make you think about the correct meaning for the word joy, and what if anything we find joy in?

    Is it in shopping? Maybe the owners of ‘Joy the Store’ are correct. People do get pleasure from buying things and owning them. Joy can be linked with pleasure and happiness. Maybe you can pinpoint the last time you purchased something that brought you joy and happiness. Maybe joy comes from being given something. Or is it a deeper feeling? People speak about joy at the birth of a new baby, or their joy at becoming engaged or getting married. Joy is about exultant and overwhelming feelings, such as crying for joy, or jumping for joy. Those of you who have received good examination results probably know what the latter is about!
  3. It seems that joy comes from somewhere much deeper than just happiness, otherwise I am not sure it would be in our list of the fruits of the Spirit. Joy is something more, something just that little bit more than feeling pleased with something. It is a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment. There could be something causing such a feeling; a source of happiness or even an outward show of pleasure or delight; rejoicing.

    Let us have a look at the hymn we sang today at the start. It seems to sum up the importance of joy as a fruit of the Spirit.
  4. Reader 1:

    Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising.
    Give me joy in my heart, I pray.
    Give me joy in my heart keep me praising,
    Keep me praising till the break of day.

    The first verse is about praising, and praising means to make positive statements about people. You know how you feel when a teacher praises you, or you praise someone for their ability. It makes them feel good and happy with themselves and the job that they have done. Sometimes we feel let down when people don’t give us praise or positive affirmation about something we feel we have done well. Why don’t you try to praise someone today and see what kind of a reaction you get?
  5. Reader 2:

    Give me peace in my heart, keep me resting.
    Give me peace in my heart, I pray.
    Give me peace in my heart, keep me resting,
    Keep me resting till the break of day.

    The second verse talks about peace, which we will look at more in detail in a later assembly, but it talks about peace allowing us to rest. At the end of a busy day, how difficult is it sometimes to find the time, the peace and the quiet to just rest? Maybe you have smaller brothers and sisters that won’t leave you alone sometimes. Try to use some time today to find a little bit of peace and quiet and just rest. You might feel like doing something else or you might just feel a little better after it.
  6. Reader 3:

    Give me love in my heart, keep me serving.
    Give me love in heart, I pray.
    Give me love in my heart, keep me serving,
    Keep me serving till the break of day.

    The third one is about love, love for yourself, for your friends and for your family. Remember that love can be expressed in many different ways; how will you express your love for someone today?

    So next time you sing those words, try to think about what they really mean.

Time for reflection

We reflect on what joy truly means with a quote from Mother Teresa, who found joy in the most unlikely of places:

‘Joy is prayer – Joy is strength – Joy is love – Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.


‘Give me oil in my lamp’ (adapted) (Come and Praise, 43)

Publication date: 2010   (Vol.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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