Fairest Lord Jesus

This is a great gospel song loved by everyone.  Legend has it that this song originated back in the late 1400's or the early 1500's.  During this time there was a new movement in Christianity under the direction of John Hus.  John Hus was a follower of the teachings of John Wycliffe who lived during the 1300's.

This movement was called the SINGING BRETHREN, because they believed in praise and worship as being a very integral part of their daily life and corporate worship service.  The established church reacted violently to this departure from the traditional service and persecuted and murdered thousands of innocent Christians because of their new belief in praise and worship.  John Hus was burned at the stake along with many of his song books. However, one must note that the underlying cause of persecution was more political than anything else.  When a group of people move away from the mainstream source of power to form a new group then that new movement has a tendency to reduce the power of the mainstream organization.  Main stream organizations do not like to lose its followers and tax base.  The result is war or persecution.

Because of the severe persecution these Christians were experiencing from the mainstream church at that time, many of them fled to far away villages where they were able to regroup and grow.  It is believed by some historians that the song Fairest Lord Jesus came out of this early Christian Movement of Praise and Worship.  What was considered praise and worship back then is now considered traditional hymns today.

LESSON #1:  Here is a simple arrangement for absolute beginners.  The right hand part is color coded green.  The left hand bass part is color coded red.  Also, this arrangement uses the fingered number system to help you to play the song.  Each time a new note appears in the music, I help you by naming the note.  Just put both thumbs on middle C.  The thumbs are #1.  Index fingers are #2.  Middle fingers are #3. Ring fingers are #4.  Little fingers are #5.  If you are a beginner, watch out for B flat.  B flat is a black key.  Also watch out for the left hand E at the beginning of the song.  CLICK ON THIS PDF FILE AND PRINT OUT THE MUSIC NOTATION.  You can also listen to this simple midi sound file.  Play along with the midi sound file so that you can tell if you are playing the correct notes or not.  MIDI FILE.

LESSON #2:  Let's take a look at the lyrics.  After you analyze the lyrics you can sing along with the midi file in lesson #3.  CLICK ON THIS PDF FILE AND PRINT UP THE LYRICS.  You can use this lyric sheet as an overhead.  Just put a piece of transparency film in your printer and print up the lyrics.  Now you can use it at your church or in your home ministry.

LESSON #3:  PRINT UP THE PDF FILE TO THE 4 PART HARMONY MUSIC NOTATION.  Click on the midi file SOUND FILE and sing your vocal part with the 4 part harmony.  This midi file goes the entire length of the song which is 4 verses.  MIDI FILE

LESSON #4:  Let's take a look at the chords in this song.  Click on the PDF file to get the melodic line and the chords.  PDF FILE.  Listen to the simple chord and melody style (piano) MIDI FILE.

LESSON #5:  It's time to have you play this song on your piano.  You've seen the lyrics.  You have sung it a few times.  This song is in the Key of E flat (Eb).  This is not an easy key signature for beginning piano students.  Most beginners like to play n the key of C, key of G, or the key of F.  The key of Eb has 3 flats associated with it:  Bb - Eb - Ab.

The ONE chord is Eb.  The FOUR chord is Ab.  and the FIVE chord is Bb.  The chords change rapidly in this song.  In most songs you have a chord change about every few measures or so.  But, in this song you are changing chords almost twice per measure.  When you have a song such as this one where the chords change frequently, you need to play the chords in relatively close by areas of the keyboard.  This means that you need to play a lot of inverted chords so that your hand is not bouncing all around the keyboard.  You don't want to have to move your entire hand to change chords, you want to just move your fingers.  To do this you need to play the inverted chords which are always close by the root chord.

Practice the chords on this chord chart that I have created for you.  Print up the PDF file of these chord charts and practice them before you attempt the song.

I am presenting this song because a lot of piano students need to get out of their comfort zone and start playing those black keys.  You need to get familiar with the Key of Eb, the key of Db and so on.  This song will push you out of your comfort zone and present a good challenge to you.

LESSON #6 SLASH CHORDS:  Slash chords are common in popular music.  You can always recognize a slash chord because there is a slash right after the chord symbol followed by another letter.  Here is an example:  C/C  or Bb/C or Ab/C.

What does this mean?  The first C means to play a C chord in your right hand, but play a C bass note in your left hand, it could easily be a C octave bass note in your left hand.  The next example means to play a Bb chord in your right hand and to play a C bass in the left hand.  The next example means to play an Ab chord in the right hand and at the same time play a C bass in the left hand.  Try out this interesting tonality of using slash chords by playing the following chord progression:

C chord/C bass-----Bb chord/C bass------Ab chord/C bass

OK, play the entire chord progression now:

C/C - Bb/C - Ab/C - Bb/C - C/C

Listen to me play this chord progression:  MIDI

You should notice that the sheet music that you printed up has slash chords in it.  For now, I would not play the slash chords, but you can if you want to.  Here is a diagram of some of the slash chords found in this song if you want to pursue this study further.  Word Document File

Black gospel is very rhythmic and utilizes a lot of patterns from R&B.  In this arrangement I have tried to combine the classical with the R&B elements of Black Gospel Piano Style.  The drums have a swing pattern to them.  The Piano part has a black gospel technique which is shifting the four chord for just a half of a beat before landing on the ONE chord which starts a new measure.  For example, you have a G chord for one full measure in 4/4 time.  On the fourth beat of the G chord measure play a quick F chord of the last half of the 4th beat and then immediately go into the C chord of the next measure.  Here listen to me play it:  MIDI FILE.  So, the piano in this arrangement is using the technique I just demonstrated.  The bass guitar part is playing a rather simple classical line.  However, the Organ is playing R&B riffs.  So, we have the piano, organ, and drums playing R&B while the strings and bass are playing classical style.  So, lets listen to it:  Fairest Lord Jesus.

You can take any traditional gospel song such as this one and arrange it to make it sound like black gospel, rock, pop, classical, bossa nova, country, or any style that you can think of.  In a future lesson, I am thinking about taking GREAT IS THY FAITHFULLNESS and arranging it to modern sounds and rhythms.  I'll present it as classical, easy listening, country, black gospel, and in the jazz gendres.


LESSON #9:  Print up the melodic line and chords, then improvise in your left hand to support the right hand melody.  PDF File download.

Watch me improvise Fairest Lord Jesus on this video:



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