Originally this song was most likely sung to a Gregorian Chant by the Jesuit monks. The music for this hymn that was most popular with 17th Century German peasants was a tune from an ancient Silesian folk song. In 1850, Richard S. Willis, composer of the music for It Came upon a Midnight Clear, arranged the folk song for use in church hymnals.
Several slightly different versions of the beautiful lyrics have appeared over the years. The most common version in English hymnals today is the following:
Fairest Lord Jesus
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
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.