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As I was listening to Christmas music over the holidays, I noticed that the popular Danish Christmas hymn "Dejlig er jorden" shares a melody with the hymn "Fairest Lord Jesus", while there are only vague similarities in the lyrics. Curious about this I checked Wikipedia and learned that both hymns ultimately derive from a German hymn that first appeared in print in 1677.

Would a question about further details of the history of "Fairest Lord Jesus" (without touching on doctrinal aspects) back to the German hymn of 1677 be on-topic here? Such a question might be considered a fit under the church history / liturgical practices topics of this site, but arguably only peripherally so. Alternatively one could take the position that this is primarily a historical or musicological question that belongs on History Stackexchange or Music Fans Stackexchange.

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  • Just to say that old music used for one hymn will often be found attached to other hymns. The duplicated use of old music with no copyright is common practice, all over the world. If the meter of a tune fits the meter of other hymn lyrics, and has no copyright, it's fair game for whoever wants to use it! So, the tune for 'Fairest Lord Jesus' in my music book is headed "Schonster Herr Jesu (St. Elisabeth) Irregular [meter] Silesian Melody from Schleswige Volkelieder, Leipzig, 1842." The lyrics have a different ascription /attribution.
    – Anne
    Feb 2 at 16:13

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Yes, hymns are topical, we even answer questions as banal as ones about identification of 80's cassette tapes (not that we particularly relish these questions) but questions about Christian history and religious significance of hymns are usually very topical.

I'd say that if it's used in liturgies, it is definitely on topic. If it's used in a church setting it's probably topical, if it's played at a youth group or sunday school it might be on topic and if it's only played on the radio it has to be a really good question.

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