The hymn “Fairest Lord Jesus” has an uncertain origin. It was first published in a German Roman Catholic publication in 1677, without attribution to an author.
It is interesting that Samuel Rutherford, the Scottish Puritan pastor who was exiled in Aberdeen from his congregation in Anwoth, wrote the following to one of his former congregants, the Laird of Cally, in 1637:
Love, by nature, when it seeth, cannot but cast out its spirit and strength upon amiable objects, and good things, and things love-worthy; and what fairer thing than Christ? O fair sun, and fair moon, and fair stars, and fair flowers, and fair roses, and fair lilies, and fair creatures: but O ten thousand thousand times fairer Lord Jesus!
Alas, I wronged Him in making the comparison this way. O black sun and moon; but O fair Lord Jesus! O black flowers, and black lilies and roses; but O fair, fair, even fair Lord Jesus! O all fair things, black and deformed without beauty, when ye are beside that fairest Lord Jesus! O black heaven, but O fair Christ! O black angels, but O surprisingly fair Lord Jesus! I would seek no more to make me happy for evermore but a thorough and clear sight of the beauty of Jesus my Lord. Let my eyes enjoy His fairness, and look Him for ever in the face, and I have all that can be wished.
(Rutherford’s Letters, p. 194-195)
Is this a claim for Rutherford as a literary source for “Fairest Lord Jesus”? While perhaps unlikely, it would not have been impossible for such words to traverse the Continent to Germany. At minimum, both Rutherford and the unknown author strike their chords from the same harp, at the feet of “our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” (James 2:1) Would not Rutherford’s paragraph make a wonderful introduction to the next singing of this great hymn in a worship service — or in your own personal worship time?
“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.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.
(Fairest Lord Jesus, text Munster Gesangbuch, trans. Jospeh August Seiss)
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory …”. (John 17:24)
“We will see Him just as He is” (I John 3:2)