The original tune for this hymn was an ancient Silesian folk song. The familiar set of lyrics “Fairest Lord Jesus” date back to as early as 1607 and were likely written by German Jesuits. Though often called ‘The Crusaders’ Hymn,” there is no evidence to corroborate the legend that it was sung by 12th century German crusaders.
This hymn setting allows an expressive conductor to add shaping of phrases where appropriate. The conductor may also find additional places to use rubato. The horn quartet at m. 51 is the preferred instrumentation as it is a favorite texture of Charles Trayler, the dedicatee. However, those parts are liberally cued to give support to the horns. It is even possible to perform that section (51-64) as a clarinet choir or sax quartet (choir).
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