Faith of our fathers, living still

Representative Text

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: [Refrain]

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: [Refrain]

Source: Glory and Praise (3rd. ed.) #593

Author: Frederick William Faber

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'… Go to person page >

Text Information


Faith of our fathers! living still. F. W. Faber. [A Pledge of Faithfulness.] This hymn appeared as the first of two hymns, one “Faith of our Fathers," for England; and the second the same for Ireland, in his Jesus and Mary; or, Catholic Hymns for Singing and Reading, 1849, in 4 stanzas of 6 lines. It was repeated in his Oratory Hymns, and several Roman Catholic collections for missions and schools. Its use illustrates most forcibly how in hymnody, as in other things, "extremes meet." In the original stanza iii., lines 1, 2, read:—

"Faith of our Fathers! Mary's prayers
Shall win our country back to thee."

In 1853 Drs. Hedge & Huntington altered these lines to:—

"Faith of our Fathers! Good men's prayers
Shall win our country all to thee."

for their Unitarian Hymns for the Church of Christ, No. 455. With this alteration it has passed into several Nonconformist collections in Great Britain and America. With the alteration of these few words the hymn is regularly sung by Unitarians on the one hand, and by Roman Catholics on the other, as a metrical embodiment of their history and aspirations.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



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