Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs: Fairest Lord Jesus

There is something about the depth of truth and theology found in many old hymns that is severely lacking in most modern-day Christian songs. I'm not an anti-praise & worship gal but am now revisiting the lyrics of many old hymns. I grew up singing old hymns but (like many evangelicals) transitioned to praise & worship in the mid-90's, and am often delighted at the solid foundation of truth I find in the old songs of faith.

So, on Sundays every now and then (if you've been around, you know I'm not one to vow to an ever-faithful once-a-week posting on a particular topic, etc...), I'd like to post the lyrics to a hymn or song that I'm finding particularly meaningful. I'll bold the lyrics that I find especially penetrating, challenging, or encouraging. Perhaps you'll enjoy it, perhaps not, but it will give me the opportunity to further mull and meditate on these lyrics I have now sung for decades.

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
~Ephesians 5:19

The first lyrics I'll share are from one of my favorites:

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 heav’n can boast.

Beautiful Saviour! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, Praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine!


When I was an R.A. in college, I used to steal away into the dorm stairwell at times when I knew most people were out of the dorms and sing hymns and revel in the rich echo found there. This was the one hymn that I always, always sang in those private stairwell sings. I am so thankful for Jesus... who He is, what He did, and how He still intercedes and loves me. He is a treasure, and so worthy of glory, honor, praise, and adoration.


Jennifer said...

It's one of my favorites too. The nice thing about staying at home with my children is that I can "belt out" any of the old hymns at just about any time of the day!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I have to agree with you, Jessica. I was raised in the Salvation Army and it was almost purely hymns. I guess what I dislike the most about some of the choruses is that we sing the same line over and over. After awhile my brain just goes into auto-pilot and I don't even mean what I sing. That is not worshipping in Spirit and Truth and I have to be so careful about that.

I do love some modern worship songs, but just don't want to sing them 10 times in a row. So, I'm like you, I'm not against them, but we need to be careful with them. It can be the same way with familiar hymns. We need to always be on guard from just "singing" them and not really engaging and pondering their meaning.


A JoyFilled Life said...

Oh, we love those old hymns here at Columbine Gardens. It has amazed me the truths and depth woven into those old songs ~ and for that matter, older children's "Sunday School" songs. We enjoy reading the "For a Child's Heart" books by Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbie Wolgemuth when we learn new hymns.

Amy said...

I, too, have a passion for old hymns. I love the depth of spiritual Truth woven into so many of them. My favorite: Be Thou My Vision. By the way, history records that Fairest Lord Jesus was sung by the disciples of John Wycliffe & John Hus (the Lollards) as they marched into Prussia carrying the Gospel (and headed for martyrdom).

lifemoreabundant said...

I love songs that are vertical like this one, rather than horizontal and me focused. I don't know that there is a time frame on that, but I do know that from any time period those are the songs that always speak to me.

Brenda said...

Oh I miss them so much!!! Sometimes I miss them right in the middle of worship.

LONG for them.

Monica said...

This is a beautiful hymn. I think that we are sorely missing something by removing them from our worship. I miss the old hymns, too. A couple of years ago I asked for a hymnal for Christmas and I cherish it. I pull it out often to sing or just read some of the great old hymns.

Jennifer said...

Beautiful song! I love the old hymns. When I'm feeling a bit down, it's always the old hymns I sing that makes me feel better. There is such a spiritual depth to them that isn't quite there in most modern worship songs. Thanks for sharing! I'll be looking forward to these.

Claire said...

That's a beautiful hymn. Being raised Catholic, we had a whole different set of hymns than I've heard since becoming born-again.

Liz said...

I we used to sing in the stairwells of our dorm too . . . where did you go to college?! :>)

I really enjoy your blog - thanks for sharing your reflections with us.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. Wonderful it is to contemplate Him.

Jules said...

I love the rich words of hymns. I sang them so mindlessly as a child and now discover what amazing messages they carried with them. Amazingly (train a child...they will not depart from it) Great is Thy Faithfulness was my anthem during a particularly tough year. I hadn't sung it much since I was a child, but it reassuring truth was brought to the front of my mind over and over again, probably daily, that year. Just last week we received "Hymns For a Child's Heart" that we purchased for our son (4) and daughter (2). I want them to not only know those beautiful hymns but discover the treasures they hold. My 2 yr old doesn't say much, but she sings along with Holy, Holy, Holy everytime.

Jessica Rae said...

I am surprised that I have never heard this hymn, but great lyrics nonetheless. Another one of my all time favorites is "It is Well with my Soul". I vote you do that one next :)
I think one of the reasons some of the older hymns have so much depth and truth in their lyrics is because the tunes already existed-they frequently re-wrote the words to bar tunes, because everyone knew how they went. Today it seems many (not all) artists focus so much on writing cool, hip, contemporary, etc. music, that though a tune might be catchy it leaves something more edifying to be desired in the lyrics department.
By the way I love Jars of Clay's album, Redemption Songs, most of which are old hymns that they have re-invented so to speak. I highly recommend it.

Tiffanie said...

Singing in stairwells is wonderful, isn't it? I was once part of a small singing group and we often practiced in the stairwells so we could hear the harmony better. I, too, am growing more fond of the old hymns...the praise stuff is focused on us (what we will do or how we feel), but the hymns focus on what God has done and his attributes.

Linda said...

Thanks for sharing your confession wih us. Those are truly special times to remember. I too love some of the old Hymns. Fanny Crosby wrote so many beautiful ones.
"Wonderful Words of Life" is one of my favorites. I bet it would sound extremely good in that stairwell. :O)

Winnie said...

Ironic that you would post this. I have recently been having the same feelings about old hymns. I just went to the library to check out a copy of my old church hymnal.

Also, along that some kind of thought, I am teaching my children the Apostles' Creed. Something else that seems to have disappeared from the church today.