Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Two Hymns of the Catholic Restoration in England

Father Frederick William Faber wrote, among other hymns, "Faith of Our Fathers". In the current issue of Voices, Helen Hull Hitchcock describes how she grew up singing that hymn as a Protestant, not realizing that the martyrs described were the Catholic martyrs of England!
Faith of Our Fathers

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.


Faith of our fathers, Mary’s prayers
Shall win our country back to Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
England shall then indeed be free.


Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.


Reading about that hymn and singing it lately at Mass on Sunday, reminded me of another hymn I read about during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to England in September 2010: "God Bless Our Pope" which begins with the fascinating line "Full in the panting heart of Rome". Nicholas Wiseman, the first Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster wrote the hymn:

Full in the panting heart of Rome,
Beneath th'apostle's crowning dome,
From pilgrims' lips that kiss the ground,
Breathes in all tongues only one sound:

'God bless our Pope, God bless our Pope,
God bless our Pope, the great, the good.'

The golden roof, the marble walls,
The Vatican's majestic halls,
The note redouble, till it fills
With echoes sweet the seven hills:[Refrain]

Then surging through each hallowed gate,
Where martyrs glory, in peace, await,
It sweeps beyond the solemn plain,
Peals over Alps, across the main:[Refrain]

From torrid south to frozen north,
That wave harmonious stretches forth,
Yet strikes no chord more true to Rome's,
Than rings within our hearts and homes:[Refrain]

Quite an example of that triumphal tone that caused trouble when Wiseman prepared to return to England for the re-establishment of the hierarchy in 1850! New lyrics were written for that visit to England last year.

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