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.
Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor,
now and forevermore be thine.
Out of the many hymns I call my favorites, Fairest Lord Jesus ranks right up there. There are a number of reasons for this, the first being that I learned it not from the hymnal but from my mother’s voice. Second, because as a little boy, God met me through the voice of my mother as she sang to me the powerful words and the beautiful melody, in times of fear and darkness in my childhood. But the words, simple and powerful, still comfort me today some thirty years after my mother went to be with the Lord. Why? Because through all the changes of life they point us to the unchanging person and character of Christ.
Last night, as I prayed with Kelley before bed, the waning moon shown brightly through our bedroom window, and this morning as I went outside to walk and pray for my family and our church family, the beautiful and powerful words to this hymn came to mind.
As I walked and prayed many were the petitions on my heart. All different and yet each important to God.
- A friend who is struggling through a season of great emotional pain, exasperated by the inability to sleep, wondering where is God and what are His purposes in all that he is going through.
- A mother who cannot help but wants to carry the burden of her children, to take the pain, the sorrow, the confusion but knows that she cannot.
- A couple so dear, who got an unexpected diagnosis and lovingly look to God for the future.
- A godly man in hospital struggling to breath with his wife and son waiting in the agony of the unknown, trusting but wrestling at the same time.
- Many in the stresses and struggles of natural transitions in life, young hearts wondering what life will hold for them in the next chapter.
- A young friend, overwhelmed with anxiety and fear that at times seems to overwhelm her.
- Many who at times find themselves very lonely, wanting friends, or a special someone and struggle with the wait and the quietness of their life.
- Then there are the busy: those overwhelmed with options, those entertaining themselves until they are so full they have no room for God, those who run to please God and many feel as if they can never stop, those who want to do everything and can’t slow down.
The second verse of Fairest Lord Jesus, reminds us of “Fair are the meadow, fairer still the woodlands robed in the blooming garb or spring, Jesus fairer, Jesus is purer, who makes the woeful heart to sing.” The hymn writer, like Jesus himself in Matthew’s gospel, reminds us to look at the ordinary to understand the extraordinary when he says “Look at the birds of the air … Look at the flowers of the field.” In the same way the writer calls us to look up from the grey fog to see the beauty of spring and to realize that which is so lovely, so bright, so glorious in itself points us to one who is fairer and purer still, one who can make the woeful heart to sing. The answer is not in the created thing but in the creator, who is forever praised.
The third verse, “Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight, and fair the twinkly starry hosts, Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer, than all the angels heaven can boast. This verse, moves from the immediate to the distant and tells us to look up to the heaven, the brightness of the moon and the glory of the constellations, for there is One who called each one of them by name and He not only knows their names but yours as well.
Finally, the last verse, uses a word so great that it helps us to understand the source of peace, our peace. “Beautiful savior, Lord of all the nations! Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honor, praise adoration now and forevermore be thine.” For a moment take the sentiments written here and read them in reverse order and you will see the fullness of God’s love in Christ for you. He to whom belongs all honor, praise, adoration and glory for He alone is both the Son of God and Son of Man (fully God and fully man), He who is the Lord of all the nations, it is He who left the glories of Heaven, the praise and adoration of angels, and was born of a poor virgin and laid in a manger. It is He who walked this world, lived our life, touched our diseases, understood our hunger, our pain, and our sorrows and all of this led Him to the cross where He our SAVIOR laid down His life to give us life. And yet He rose victorious from the grave and John’s gospel tells us “Because I live, you shall also live.” (John 14:19)
In opening verses of Psalm 19, the psalmist tells us that the “Heaven declare the glory of God, the skies above proclaim His handiwork, day to day they pour out speech, and night to night they reveal knowledge.” My prayer for us, in our high speed world that never seems to stop, is that even for just a moment we would simply stop, and lift up our eyes and allow the beauty of the created to point us beyond itself to the Creator, who is our Savior. May we be pointed to His power, His beauty, His presence, His love and His faithfulness, and there in His presence simply sit in quiet and be still and know that He is God!
Here are some simple suggestions:
- LEAVE – First, leave your worries at the foot of the cross (if it helps do this in your mind’s eye, leave them at the foot of the cross, He can take care of them for you). Second, leave all those things which promises life but never delivers it and ask God to remind you of the life He promised to give you. Step away from your desk, your chair, you screens, your cars, and go outside if just for your lunch hour. Kids, leave your phones and video games and go outside. Take a walk around the block, in the park, sit on a park bench, or lie in the grass and look up.
- LOOK – look up, out and around. Count the different hues present in the leaves, look at the flowers and count the various kinds their colors, smell them, look closely at them, see the bees pollinating the flowers. Look at the birds, watch them fly, build their nest, watch the clouds fly by in the bright blue sky. Breath in deeply through your nose and slowly release it through your mouth, close your eyes and relax your’ body.
- LISTEN – Allow yourself to get quiet, find a quiet space and listen to the wind rustling through the new leaves or the tall grass, listen for birds chirping or other animals, listen to the quiet. In the quiet, ask God to speak and listen for His voice as a scripture or a hymn or songs comes to mind.
- LOVE – bask in the love of God for you, His grace, His provision, His faithfulness. Tell God of all the ways that you can see He loves you and then speak to God and tell Him of your love for Him. Tell Him why you love Him. Don’t worry about your prayer requests (He already knows them), talk to Him, write Him a song, a hymn or a psalm of thanksgiving . Then as you bask in His love, love those He has given you to love in the same manner as He loves you and in the strength of His love for you.