Monday, February 4, 2008
Getting to know Fr. Faber
It is my belief that most American catholics think that the hymn "Faith of our Fathers" is somehow Methodist in origin, generally Christian in subject matter. Well it's not, though the version we usually sing here might conduce to such an opinion. The fact is that this famous hymn was written by the founder of our Mother House, the Brompton Oratory, Fr. Frederick William Faber. When we consider that the verse "Faith of our Fathers, we will strive : to win all nations unto thee..." is in its original form (still sung in England) "Faith of our Fathers, Mary's prayers : shall will all nations unto thee..." the catholicity of this hymn becomes a little more obvious. We also see just who we mean when we sing "Our fathers chained in prisons dark : were yet in heart and conscience free", namely the English Catholics of the Tudor persecution. This profound hymn proved so popular that it has indeed been taken up in a changed form by many protestant and ecumenical hymnals. Nevertheless it is indicative of our diffused sense of Catholic identity here in America that few are acquainted with the author both of this famous hymn, and more particularly of our vocations as Brothers of the Little Oratory of St. Philip.
To the end of redressing that lack, the link below will take the reader to several volumes of Fr. Faber's works. St. Philip is himself known as "the Saint of a Joyful heart," and in typically Philippine fashion, the reader will find amongst Fr. Faber's listed works, a treatise on chemistry by another Frederick Faber. Read Melissa Wilkenson's new biography of Faber to discover the full meaning of that literary coincidence!
Google Book Search