Which goes right back to the earliest confessions of the church: And then it expresses the love of the hymn singer to Christ: You know, it's all about desiring Christ in all His glory, and valuing Christ more than anything else in the world. And I would think that this would be a text that John would like a lot, because it's all about valuing Christ more than anything, however glorious the other things might be.
I've always thought of this hymn as a children's hymn, maybe because the language and poetry is so simple; and perhaps also we tend to associate poetry about nature — meadows and sunshine, and twinkling stars and so on - as being more for children. Although of course the Psalms often reflect on creation. I was trying to work out in my head as you were talking why I'd not ever considered this to be one of the great hymns.
I mean, it's a beautiful hymn. And I tend to think that the marriage of the hymn to this very singable and memorable tune gives the poetry greater weight that perhaps it otherwise would have got. Also, Derek, I think it's because we associate this song with our school experience. A lot of us sang this song in school. It's been a favorite song in American folk song singing, because it was considered almost a folk song, and some famous choirs have sung this particular song as one of their theme songs.
I think the St. Olaf Choir, for instance, under Christiansen, has used this. And so we have emotional associations with it. Now let me explain. If you had a service with four hymns — and not every service has four hymns — but if a service has four hymns, I think it's good to have the opening one to God the Father, and the second one to the Lord Jesus, and the third one to the Holy Spirit. And I think this one is a good second hymn devoted to Christ and devoted to an experiential emphasis.
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Because there's a pietism in the proper sense of the word that comes across. Now, Derek, you have touched one of my favorite theme songs!
First of all, I like the fact that a congregation sings a lot of hymns. I think that's their main way of responding, and so I'm always glad when we have time to have four hymns in a service here. And I do think that there is a progression of the spirit and the attitude that you bring to worship, and I think that the worship ought to start on a high note. And even in the synagogue worship, the worship began with Psalms of praise. And I think that helps to direct the heart and the mind of the congregation the right way: Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, who makes the woeful heart to sing.
I was thinking of it in terms of where we are here in Jackson, Mississippi, and spring last week, at most! And it's this week with the pollen…. It's about a week, or two weeks at maximum.
But I have this memory — and I would have been under seven, so five or six years old — growing up on a different farm from where I was a teenager, walking into a forest that was behind the farm. It must have been spring time and the entire floor of the forest — it wasn't a dense forest; there was plenty of sunlight that came down into the forest, so the floor was just a carpet of bluebells. But I was listening over the weekend to a friend of ours, Sinclair Ferguson, say something about Spurgeon.
And what he said about Spurgeon was that… He was being a little critical of Spurgeon's exegetical prowess in preaching, but he said the thing he liked about Spurgeon was his instinct to see Jesus in the text. And I think that this hymn — I thought about it several hours afterwards — that we can never assume, not just about ourselves in preaching, but about the congregation in its worship — we can never assume that it can see Jesus in the worship.
And I think that this hymn brings that right up front, the instinct to see Jesus. Lord of the nations! Son of God and Son of Man! And though that is very appropriate to children, and though the language of the English translation is simple and flowery, there really is some substance to that for the soul to chew on. And that's something that we could do well with more of, really reckoning with the fact that the most beautiful things that we see in this world, the most precious things that this world has to offer, are not as glorious as the Lord Jesus Christ.
And having the soul really rest in deep satisfaction in the person and work of Christ. Now one thing that's not talked about a lot in the hymn is the work of Christ. There's a focus on His person. And I'm not sure of the origin — I notice that one of the hymnologists puts the tune origin in lyrics from Roman Catholic sources.
Now I don't have enough information on that to follow up on, although I'm a little surprised, given that this appears, Bill, in the Munster Gesangbuch , which presumably means it will be the Protestant City Church in Munster in I'd be a little surprised for them to have a tune — or a song, a lyric — from Roman Catholic sources there.
I just don't know enough about it to follow up on. It's a bit like Silent Night. This is a preview of your FlexScore. A Friends Hymnal Baptist Hymnal Fairest Lord Jesus First Line: Fairest Lord Jesus Tune Title: Joseph Augustus Seiss Meter: Anonymous German Hymn; Tr. Celebrating Grace Hymnal Joseph August Seiss Meter: Church Chorals and Choir Studies, , alt.
Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature First Line: Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature Date: Church Hymnary 4th ed.
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Lilian Stevenson Meter: Common Praise Creation ; Jesus Christ Source: Community of Christ Sings Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature Tune Title: Complete Mission Praise Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature Meter: Glory to God New York , alt. Hymns for a Pilgrim People Hymns for Today's Church 2nd ed. Hymns of Faith Hymns of Promise Praise to Christ Source: Hymns of the Saints Church Chorals and Choir Studies, Hymns to the Living God Revelation and Adoration Source: Fairest Lord Jesus Author: Joseph August Seiss, Date: Jesus Christ ; Jesucristo Source: I love to sing it in the original German language.
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