Posted by: rcottrill | May 11, 2012

Fairest Lord Jesus

Words: From a 1662 German manuscript (author unknown)
Music: Crusader’s Hymn, a German folk melody


Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The German words (Schonster Herr Jesu) were translated into English by Joseph August Seiss (1823-1904) and by others. The song has traditionally been used as a Christmas hymn, though there’s nothing specifically about the birth of Christ in it.

As to the tune, the tradition that German knights sang it on their way to Jerusalem on a crusade is not the origin of the name. Harvesters in Germany were heard singing the tune in the early 1800’s, and composer Franz Liszt used it as part of “The Crusader’s March,” in his oratorio, The Legend of St. Elizabeth. That is what gave the melody a name. It was later arranged as a hymn tune by Richard Storrs Willis (1819-1900), who also composed the tune for the carol It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.

CH-1) Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honour,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

The words “fairest” and “fair,” (yapheh in Hebrew) are found many times in the Old Testament. Signifying either beautiful or handsome, they are used of both men and women, and of the city of Jerusalem (Ps. 48:2), and employed often in the Song of Solomon to describe the king’s bride. One of the descriptions there could be applied in an absolute sense to the Lord Jesus as well. The bridegroom says of his beloved:

“You are all fair…there is no spot in you” (S.S. 4:17).

Christ’s is, however, a beauty of holy character, not of physical appearance (“no spot,” I Pet. 1:17-18). As Isaiah prophesied of His coming, “He has no form or comeliness [majesty]; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isa. 53:2). Paintings with a glowing halo around the head of Jesus are not in keeping with reality. His glory was veiled from human sight in those days (except for His brief revelation of it on the Mount of Transfiguration, Matt. 17:1-2).

Radiating from His inner Person was “the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 29:2) in all its perfection. In addition to His divine character, what impressed others was not the handsomeness of His Person, but the power and authority demonstrated in His words (Matt. 7:29) and works (Jn. 3:2), during His time on earth.

There was a dramatic difference in how He spoke. While others taught “As rabbi so-and-so says…” Christ was able to speak as the Source of truth, “I say to you…” (e.g. Matt. 5:20, 22, 28, 32, 34, 44). And in His works He repeatedly demonstrated the power of God (Jn. 5:36; Acts 2:22; 10:38).

Stanza CH-4 is not found in all hymn books, but I love it especially, as it voices a personal testimony.

CH-4) All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Saviour, art to me.

CH-5) Beautiful Saviour! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honour, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.

1) Often the world’s definition of beauty is warped or limited. What definition would you use that would fit the Lord Jesus?

2) What is the most beautiful thing about Christ to you personally?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


%d bloggers like this: