First published anonymously in 1662 with the German text Schönster Herr Jesu, this hymn has two English translations: Fairest Lord Jesus and Beautiful Savior. Fairest Lord Jesus is the more popular of the two but, whichever text you choose to sing, the tune will likely be the same Silesian folk melody.
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.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.
Different hymnals call the melody by different tune names – some title it Crusader’s Hymn and others call it by the first line of the original German text, Schönster Herr Jesu. And as if two names for this hymn tune weren’t enough, Franz Liszt borrowed this tune to use for the crusader’s march in his oratorio The Legend of St. Elizabeth so you’ll find this tune also called…St. Elizabeth.
The names and translations may vary but one indisputable fact remains: this is a very beautiful and very useful hymn. It’s appropriate for Christmas, Easter, weddings, funerals, and any time in between. So I crafted a piano arrangement of it using a triple meter and, as a nod to Liszt, borrowed some ideas from his Liebesträume No. 3 for the middle. True to Liszt, this arrangement is a little more advanced but I believe the results are worth the extra preparation. Enjoy!