Thursday, September 26, 2013

Father Faber on the Son Rise Morning Show

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning at 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central to discuss the life and influence of Father Frederick Faber, Oratorian and hymnist. You can listen live here online. He is probably best known for his great hymn, "Faith of Our Fathers", sung to the tune St. Catherine by Henri F. Hemy:
1. Faith of our fathers, living still,
in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
O how our hearts beat high
with joy whene'er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

2. 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.

3. 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.

From Crisis Magazine:

When Father Frederick Faber died in September 1863 after a long illness, there was an outpouring of grief for this Oxford Movement convert. The Freeman’s Journal in Dublin remarked that Faber’s death, “though so long expected, has come with a seeming suddenness…. [T]he name of Father Faber has become a household word as his beautiful hymns have been adopted by every congregation.” The funeral, which was held at the Brompton Oratory that Faber had established ten years earlier, attracted a great crowd. Many of Faber’s fellow Oratorians attended, including John Henry Newman. A number of diocesan priests came as well, including Monsignor Henry Manning, who would soon be appointed Archbishop of Westminster. Also participating were Dominican and Capuchin friars along with priests from France, Belgium and Germany. A correspondent for the Freeman’s Journal recounted the ceremony: “A procession was formed down the centre of the church, the cross being borne in front, and the clergymen walking two by two between the vast crowd which thronged the building. It was a sight calculated to cause deep feelings.”

Faber had accomplished much in the 49 years that God had allotted him. He had arrived at Oxford University in the early 1830s just as the Oxford Movement was taking shape. Like Newman, Faber was drawn to the Church Fathers and hoped that Anglicanism would accept the Early Church understanding of sacraments and liturgy as its own. Ordained an Anglican minister in 1839, Faber quickly lost confidence in the Church of England and wanted to convert to Catholicism. Newman, however, urged him to wait. By the fall of 1845, Newman, too, had despaired of Anglicanism and was received into the Catholic Church. Faber followed a month later. Newman and Faber and the dozens of other Oxford ministers who entered the Catholic Church knew they were taking a bold and radical step. Catholics in England were a small, suspect group, associated in the public imagination with “Bloody Mary,” the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder Plot. When reporting on the conversions, some English newspapers described them as “perversions.” . . .

In recent years, however, Faber’s reputation has suffered. Some Catholics have found him too Roman, too Marian, too exuberant in his piety. Some Newman scholars have sided with Newman in his quarrel with Faber and have written disparagingly of Faber. . . .

Professor Sylva described the results of that disagreement between Blessed John Henry Newman and Father Frederick Faber in her book on Newman and Italy when Newman traveled to visit different Italian Oratories and with Pope Pius IX to determine that each Oratory could have separate missions, depending on their situation and charisms. The Birmingham Oratory was more focused on education than the London or Brompton Oratory, and through his journey through northern Italy and to Rome, Newman and Ambrose St. John received confirmation that this was not only appropriate, but part of the Oratory rule.

The Provost of the London Oratory writes in his September newsletter that a requiem Mass was scheduled for today in honor of their founder. Father Frederick Faber died on September 26, 1863. He also wrote many devotional works, including All for Jesus, Growth in Holiness, and works on the Blessed Sacrament, the Precious Blood, the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and others. His other famous hymn is "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy":

There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.

There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than in heaven;
there is no place where earth's failings
have such kind judgment given.
There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of man's mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we should take him at his word;
and our life would be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.


  1. Great article! Looking forward to hearing you on the radio.

  2. There is no place where earth's sorrows are more felt than in heaven;