1814 - 1863 Person Name: Frederick W. Faber Author of "O God, whose thoughts are brightest light" in Hymns of the Kingdom of God Raised in the Church of England, Frederick W. Faber (b. Calverly, Yorkshire, England, 1814; d. Kensington, London, England, 1863) came from a Huguenot and strict Calvinistic family background. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and ordained in the Church of England in 1839. Influenced by the teaching of John Henry Newman, Faber followed Newman into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845 and served under Newman's supervision in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Because he believed that Roman Catholics should sing hymns like those written by John Newton, Charles Wesley, and William Cowpe, Faber wrote 150 hymns himself. One of his best known, "Faith of Our Fathers," originally had these words in its third stanza: "Faith of Our Fathers! Mary's prayers/Shall win our country back to thee." He published his hymns in various volumes and finally collected all of them in Hymns (1862).
Faber, Frederick William, D.D., son of Mr. T. H. Faber, was born at Calverley Vicarage, Yorkshire, June 28, 1814, and educated at Balliol College, Oxford, graduating B.A. in 1836. He was for some time a Fellow of University College, in the same University. Taking Holy Orders in 1837, he became Rector of Elton, Huntingdonshire, in 1843, but in 1846 he seceded to the Church of Rome. After residing for some time at St. Wilfrid's, Staffordshire, he went to London in 1849, and established the London "Oratorians," or, "Priests of the Congregation of St. Philip Neri," in King William Street, Strand. In 1854 the Oratory was removed to Brompton. Dr. Faber died Sept. 26, 1863. Before his secession he published several prose works, some of which were in defence of the Church of England; and afterwards several followed as Spiritual Conferences, All for Jesus, &c. Although he published his Cherwell Waterlily and Other Poems, 1840; The Styrian Lake, and Other Poems, 1842; Sir Lancelot, 1844; and The Rosary and Other Poems, 1845; and his Lives of the Saints, in verse, before he joined the Church of Rome, all his hymns were published after he joined that communion. They were included in his:—
(1) A small book of eleven Hymns1849, for the School at St. Wilfrid's, Staffordshire. (2) Jesus and Mary: or, Catholic Hymns for Singing and Reading, London 1849. In 1852 the 2nd edition was published with an addition of 20 new hymns. (3) Oratory Hymns, 1854; and (4) Hymns, 1862, being a collected edition of what he had written and published from time to time.
Dr. Faber's account of the origin of his hymn-writing is given in his Preface to Jesus & Mary. After dwelling on the influence, respectively, of St. Theresa, of St. Ignatius, and of St. Philip Neri, on Catholicism; and of the last that "sanctity in the world, perfection at home, high attainments in common earthly callings…was the principal end of his apostolate," he says:—
“It was natural then that an English son of St. Philip should feel the want of a collection of English Catholic hymns fitted for singing. The few in the Garden of the Soul were all that were at hand, and of course they were not numerous enough to furnish the requisite variety. As to translations they do not express Saxon thought and feelings, and consequently the poor do not seem to take to them. The domestic wants of the Oratory, too, keep alive the feeling that something of the sort was needed: though at the same time the author's ignorance of music appeared in some measure to disqualify him for the work of supplying the defect. Eleven, however, of the hymns were written, most of them, for particular tunes and on particular occasions, and became very popular with a country congregation. They were afterwards printed for the Schools at St. Wilfrid's, and the very numerous applications to the printer for them seemed to show that, in spite of very glaring literary defects, such as careless grammar and slipshod metre, people were anxious to have Catholic hymns of any sort. The manuscript of the present volume was submitted to a musical friend, who replied that certain verses of all or nearly all of the hymns would do for singing; and this encouragement has led to the publication of the volume."
In the same Preface he clearly points to the Olney Hymns and those of the Wesleys as being the models which for simplicity and intense fervour he would endeavour to emulate. From the small book of eleven hymns printed for the schools at St. Wilfrid's, his hymn-writing resulted in a total of 150 pieces, all of which are in his Hymns, 1862, and many of them in various Roman Catholic collections for missions and schools. Few hymns are more popular than his "My God, how wonderful Thou art," "O come and mourn with me awhile," and "Sweet Saviour, bless us ere we go." They excel in directness, simplicity, and pathos. "Hark, hark, my soul, angelic songs are swelling," and "O Paradise, O Paradise," are also widely known. These possess, however, an element of unreality which is against their permanent popularity. Many of Faber's hymns are annotated under their respective first lines; the rest in common use include:—
i. From his Jesus and Mary, 1849 and 1852.
1. Fountain of love, Thyself true God. The Holy Ghost.
2. How shalt thou bear the Cross, that now. The Eternal Years.
3. I come to Thee, once more, O God. Returning to God.
4. Joy, joy, the Mother comes. The Purification.
5. My soul, what hast thou done for God? Self-Examination
6. O how the thought of God attract. Holiness Desired.
7. O soul of Jesus, sick to death. Passiontide. Sometimes this is divided into two parts, Pt. ii. beginning, “My God, my God, and can it be."
ii. From his Oratory Hymns, 1854.
8. Christians, to the war! Gather from afar. The Christian Warfare.
9. O come to the merciful Saviour that calls you. Divine Invitation. In many collections.
10. O God, Thy power is wonderful. Power and Eternity of God.
11. O it is sweet to think, Of those that are departed. Memory of the Dead.
12. O what are the wages of sin? The Wages of Sin.
13. O what is this splendour that beams on me now? Heaven.
14. Saint of the Sacred Heart. St. John the Evangelist.
iii. From his Hymns, 1862.
15. Father, the sweetest, dearest Name. The Eternal Father.
16. Full of glory, full of wonders, Majesty Divine. Holy Trinity.
17. Hark ! the sound of the fight. Processions.
18. How pleasant are thy paths, 0 death. Death Contemplated.
19. O God, Whose thoughts are brightest light. Thinking no Evil.
20. O why art thou sorrowful, servant of God? Trust in God.
21. Souls of men, why will ye scatter? The Divine Call.
22. The land beyond the sea. Heaven Contemplated.
23. The thought of God, the thought of thee. Thoughts of God.
24. We come to Thee, sweet Saviour. Jesus, our Rest.
In addition to these there are also several hymns in common use in Roman Catholic hymn-books which are confined to those collections. In the Hymns for the Year, by Dr. Rawes, Nos. 77, 110, 112, 117, 120, 121, 122, 125, 127, 128, 131, 140, 152, 154,169, 170, 174, 179, 180, 192, 222, 226, 230, 271, 272, are also by Faber, and relate principally to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Several of these are repeated in other Roman Catholic collections.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907
Faber, Frederick William, p. 361, i. To this article the following additions have to be made:—
1. Blood is the price of heaven. Good Friday. (1862.)
2. Exceeding sorrowful to death. Gethsemane. This in the Scottish Ibrox Hymnal, 1871, is a cento from "O soul of Jesus, sick to death," p. 362, i., 7.
3. From pain to pain, from woe to woe. Good Friday. (1854.)
4. I wish to have no wishes left. Wishes about death. (1862.)
5. Why is thy face so lit with smiles? Ascension. (1849.)
The dates here given are those of Faber's works in which the hymns appeared. In addition to these hymns there are also the following in common use:—
6. Dear God of orphans, hear our prayer. On behalf of Orphans. This appeared in a miscellaneous collection entitled A May Garland, John Philip, n.d. , No. 1, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines. In the Roman Catholic Parochial Hymn Book, 1880, it begins, "O God of orphans, hear our prayer."
7. Sleep, sleep my beautiful babe. Christmas Carol. This carol we have failed to trace.
8. By the Archangel's word of love. Pt. i. Life of our Lord. This, and Pt. ii., “By the blood that flowed from Thee"; Pt. iii., "By the first bright Easter day"; also, "By the word to Mary given"; "By the name which Thou didst take"; in The Crown Hymn Book and other Roman Catholic collections, we have seen ascribed to Dr. Faber, but in the Rev. H. Formby's Catholic Hymns, 1853, they are all signed "C. M. C," i.e. Cecilia M. Caddell (p. 200, i.).
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)
Faber, F. W., pp. 361, i.; 1562, ii. We are informed by members of Dr. Faber's family that his father was Mr. Thomas Henry Faber, sometime Lay Secretary of the Bishop of Durham. In addition to his hymns already noted in this Dictionary, the following are found in various Roman Catholic collections, viz.:—
i. From St. Wilfrid's Hymns, 1849:—
1. Dear Father Philip, holy Sire. S. Philip Neri.
2. Hail, holy Joseph, hail. S. Joseph.
3. Mother of Mercy, day by day. Blessed Virgin Mary.
ii. Jesus and Mary, 1849:—
4. Ah ! dearest Lord! I cannot pray. Prayer.
5. Dear Husband of Mary. S. Joseph.
6. Dear Little One, how sweet Thou art. Christmas.
7. Father and God! my endless doom. Predestination.
8. Hail, holy Wilfrid, hail. S. Wilfrid.
9. O Jesus, if in days gone by. Love of the World.
10. O turn to Jesus, Mother, turn. B. V. M.
11. Sing, sing, ye angel bands. Assum. B. V. M.
iii. Jesus and Mary, 1852:—
12. All ye who love the ways of sin. S. Philip Neri.
13. Day set on Rome! its golden morn. S. Philip Neri.
14. Hail, bright Archangel! Prince of heaven. S. Michael.
15. Hail, Gabriel, hail. S. Gabriel.
16. O Flower of Grace, divinest Flower. B. V. M.
17. Saint Philip! 1 have never known. S. Philip Neri.
18. Sweet Saint Philip, thou hast won us. S. Philip Neri. Previously in the Rambler, May, 1850, p. 425.
iv. Oratory Hymns, 1854:—
19. Day breaks on temple roofs and towers. Expect. of B. V. M.
20. How gently flow the silent years. S. Martin and S. Philip.
21. How the light of Heaven is stealing. Grace.
22. Like the dawning of the morning. Expect. of B. V. M.
23. Mother Mary ! at thine altar. For Orphans.
24. My God! Who art nothing but mercy and kindness. Repentance.
25. O blessed Father! sent by God. S. Vincent of Paul.
26. O do you hear that voice from heaven? Forgiveness.
27. The chains that have bound me. Absolution.
28. The day, the happy day, is dawning. B. V. M.
29. The moon is in the heavens above. B. V. M.
30. Why art thou sorrowful, servant of God? Mercy.
v. Hymns, 1862:—
31. At last Thou art come, little Saviour. Christmas.
32. By the spring of God's compassions. S. Raphael.
33. Fair are the portals of the day. B. V. M.
34. Father of many children. S. Benedict.
35. From the highest heights of glory. S. Mary Magdalene.
36. Like the voiceless starlight falling. B. V. M.
37. Mary! dearest mother. B. V. M.
38. Mother of God, we hail thy heart. B. V. M.
39. O Anne! thou hadst lived through those long dreary years. S. Anne. Previously in Holy Family Hymns, 1860.
40. O balmy and bright as moonlit night. B. V. M.
41. O Blessed Trinity! Thy children. Holy Trinity.
42. O dear Saint Martha, busy saint. S. Martha
43. O Mother, will it always be. B. V. M.
44. O vision bright. B. V. M.
45. Summer suns for ever shining. B. V. M.
46. There are many saints above. S. Joseph. Previously in Holy Family Hymns, 1860.
vi. Centos and altered forms:—
47. Confraternity men to the fight. From "Hark the sound of the fight," p. 362, i.
48. Hail, sainted Mungo, hail. From No. 8.
49. I bow to Thee, sweet will of God. From "I worship Thee," p. 559, ii.
50. They whom we loved on earth. From "0 it is sweet to think," p. 362, i.
51. Vincent! like Mother Mary, thou. From No. 25.
When Dr. Faber's hymns which are in common use are enumerated, the total falls little short of one hundred. In this respect he outnumbers most of his contemporaries. [Rev. James Mearns]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)
See also in:
Hymn Writers of the Church
Frederick William Faber