Day 12

Fairest Lord Jesus

from the reading plan

Psalm 27:4-6, Psalm 45:1-17, Isaiah 33:17

As sweet as a lullaby, “Fairest Lord Jesus” seems like a delicate hymn for rosy-cheeked children. But it has a surprising and legendary German history, originally sung as a far rougher, more warlike battle hymn.

Legend has it that the hymn originated in the 12th century as a Teutonic Knights’ anthem sung in Prussia under the Holy Roman Empire, or as an 18th century tune from the Germanic region of Silesia. Either way, the current tune carries the rousing moniker of “Crusader’s Hymn” (Brink 62).

This is due in part to Franz Liszt, prodigy pianist and world-renowned composer. He used this tune in his 1862 oratorio, “The Legend of St. Elizabeth,” as the battle march for his costumed crusaders. Suddenly, this quiet, lullaby of a song appeared in an entirely new light, all dressed up and armed for war.

With a closer look, we see this is true for many hymns and truths of the gospel as well. They can be sung gently and reassuringly, for we are God’s children, and we desperately need the comfort and beauty of this promise: “to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).

But the gospel is also a clarion call to the safety of our Lord in battle: “For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity; He will hide me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high on a rock” (Psalm 27:5-6). Thanks be to God, who preserves us and fights for us. And thanks be to Jesus, our Savior, the ruler of all nature.

Fairest Lord Jesus
By Joseph A. Siess

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.

Beautiful Savior!
Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor,
praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.

Brink, Emily R. Psalter Hymnal Handbook. Edited by Bert Polman. Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 1998.

Post Comments (4)

4 thoughts on "Fairest Lord Jesus"

  1. Gary says:

    I love this hymn because it’s so simple. It praises God and focuses on God’s majesty and splendor. All too often it’s easy to get caught up in ourselves and our own issues, when really, all we need to do is worship God and keep God on the throne. This was a much needed reminder today.

  2. Logan says:

    We all strive to see the glory in God’s promise, and it is amazing when we catch even a glimmer of its beauty!

  3. Dustin says:

    Sometimes I like to think about what it will be like to dwell in God’s house. At the end of time, when the earth is remade, what will it be like to spend eternity with God? Even the most beautiful and fascinating things of this world are pale and boring when compared with Jesus. His love and joy are far greater than any created thing. I often have to step back and look at the beauty of the Lord. The majesty of Him. I get so overwhelmed with my life that I don’t step back to see Him.

  4. Josh W says:

    Sometimes the cares of this world overshadow the simple truth that Jesus has it under control. I find this evident in my life, though it is something that God has been working on me about. God, help me to remember your in control and watching in the peaceful days and the ones fraught with storms. Thank you for your faithfulness.

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