The Story Behind “Fairest Lord Jesus”

Fairest Lord Jesus,

Ruler of all nature,

O Thou of God and man the son,

Thee will I cherish,

Thee will I honor,

Thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.

 

Fair are the meadows,

Fairer still the woodlands,

Robed in the blooming garb of spring:

Jesus is fairer,

Jesus is purer,

Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

 

Fair is the sunshine,

Fairer still the moonlight,

And all the twinkling starry host:

Jesus shines brighter,

Jesus shines purer,

Than all the angels heaven can boast.

Munster Gesangbuch, 1677

Translator Unknown

 

This is sometimes called the Crusader’s Hymn, even though it was probably never sung until several hundred years after the Crusades. It may have first been sung by the followers of reformer John Huss, who lived near Prague around 1400. In an anti-Reformation purge, Hussites were expelled from Bohemia and went into Silesia, where they became weavers and cobblers, maintaining their faith in secret. But they had a strong tradition of hymn singing, and the most reliable tradition says that this hymn came from these humble Christians.

The hymn contains no comments on persecution, but only praise to a wonderful Savior. Whoever wrote the hymn was close to nature and adored God’s creation, but recognized that even fairer than the creation is the Creator. This season as we bask in the beauties of all that God has given us to enjoy, we mustn’t forget that Jesus is fairer and purer than all the blooming garb of spring.

From “The One Year Book Of Hymns: 365 Devotional Readings Based On Great Hymns Of The Faith”, by Robert K Brown and Mark R. Norton

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