“Thou are fairer than the children of men.” – Psalm 45:2
Crusader’s Hymn, Silessian Folk Melody
A precious hymn. This hymn has a somewhat elusive history. It is thought to have originated as early as 1607, possibly written by German Jesuits, and called Schnaster Herr Jesu. It first appeared in print in 1677, in a German Roman Catholic publication, but with author unknown. The first three stanzas were translated into English by an unknown. The fourth stanza was added in English by Lutheran pastor and theologian, Joseph A. Seiss in 1873.
Originally this song was most likely sung to a Gregorian Chant by the Jesuit monks. The music for this hymn that was most popular with 17th Century German peasants was a tune from an ancient Silesian folk song. In 1850, Richard S. Willis, composer of the music for It Came upon a Midnight Clear, arranged the folk song for the use in church hymnals.
Several slightly different versions of the beautiful lyrics have appeared over the years. The most common version in English hymnals today is the following:
Fairest Lord Jesus
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of the 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 nations!
Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honor,
Praise adoration, Now and forever more be Thine! Amen.