I recall that a number of years ago, a young brother, the son of a dear friend, asked me, “What is your favorite word?” Having never been asked that question, I thought for a moment and smiled, as I responded, “lagniappe.” “What does that mean?” he asked. “I never heard that word.”
I explained that it refers to an unexpected treat, a blessing, a benefit thrown in as a surprise. The term is said to be derived from Spanish and French and is often used in Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas, according to Dictionary.com. I recall using the term on my first visit to New Orleans where the father of a friend invited my wife and me to famous five-star restaurant, and I remarked, “What a wonderful lagniappe!” Our host then went on to give this definition which he had heard from Justin Wilson, the famous comedian and chef, who spoke in a thick Cajun accent:
“You go to the baker, and you buy one dozen cookie. You come home and count de cookie, and you got thirteen cookie . . . thirteenth cookie—dat’s lagniappe.”
In an excerpt from Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, the noted regional writer, offers a similar definition:
In reflecting on my favorite word, I thought of God, our gracious Father, who daily loads us the benefits, at his right hand are pleasures evermore. Heaven, the place where God, our magnificent and beneficent Father dwells, is a place of “endless lagniappes,” the title of this poem:
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
In His presence God affirms and confirms once more
That the Lord is good and that His mercy endures.
Abundant favor, boundless blessings I explore,
As the unfailing Word strengthens and reassures.
A bountiful table daily set before me,
Each custom designed and prepared with me in mind,
As a savory foretaste of eternity.
I seek to do His will, knowing that I shall find
Strength to lead and faith to follow the Lord each day.
The God of all comfort surrounds me and upholds
Me in peace with His gracious right hand, as I pray.
Joy beyond words floods my soul, as glory unfolds.
Our God releases what the enemy entraps:
The Lord of loving kindness and endless lagniappes.
Esther Mui offers a Christian Praise Worship song inspired by Psalm 16:5-11: At Your Right Hand are Pleasures Forevermore”