Behind the Hymn: Fairest Lord Jesus
Fairest Lord Jesus is a song of mystery.
The author and origin of the song are unknown.
The song seems to have originated as a folk song in Germany and other areas of Europe.
Some historians believe the song may even date back to the 12th Century when it was sung by the German crusaders as the made their long, dangerous and wearisome journey to the Holy Land. For this reason it is referred to as the Crusader’s Hymn.
Some historians theorize that the words originated from various sources such as in the Jesuit Order, through Moravians during the anti-Reformation purge or from followers of John Hus.
The tune of Fairest Lord Jesus appeared in German as a folk song in 1842, but hymnologist Albert Edwards Bailey believes the original text first appeared in 1677.
No one knows who translated the hymn into English.
The hymn first appeared in American hymnals in the mid-19th Century. The hymn is sometimes referred to as Beautiful Savior.
In the 1850 publication Church Chorals and Choir Studies, a notation states the hymn was “sung by the German knights on the way to Jerusalem.” That may well be where the Crusader legend began.
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