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Updated 05/29/2013


Faith of Our Fathers

Frederick William Faber

The words to "Faith of Our Fathers" were written by Frederick Faber.  Frederick William Faber (June 28, 1814 - September 26,

1863), Britishhymn writer and theologian, was born at Calverley, Yorkshire, where his grandfather, Thomas Faber, was vicar.  He

attended the grammar school of Bishop Auckland for a short time, but a large portion of his boyhood was spent in Westmorland.

He afterwards went to Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1835, he obtained a scholarship at University College. In 1836, he

won the Newdigate prize for a poem on "The Knights of St John," which elicited specialpraise from Keble. Among his college

friends were Dean Stanley and Roundell Palmer, 1st Earl of Selborne.


In January 1837, he was elected fellow of University College. Meanwhile, he had given up the Calvinistic views of his youth, and

had become an enthusiastic follower of John Henry Newman. In 1841, a travelling tutorship took him to the continent; on his return,

he published a book called Sights and Thoughts in Foreign Churches and among Foreign Peoples (London, 1842),with a dedication

to his friend the poet Wordsworth.

He accepted the rectory of Elton in Huntingdonshire, but soon after went again to the continent, in order to study the methods of the Roman Catholic Church. After a prolonged mental struggle, he joined the Catholic Church in November 1845.  He founded a religious community at Cotton Hall, also known as St. Wilfrids', in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, called Wilfridians (which ultimately merged in the oratory of St Philip Neri, with John Henry Newman as Superior). In 1849, a branch of the oratory—subsequently independent—was established in London, first in King William Street, and afterwards at Brompton, over which Faber presided until his death. In spite of his weak health, an almost incredible amount of work was crowded into those years. He published a number of theological works, and edited the Oratorian Lives of the Saints.

This hymn was sung at the fun­er­al of Amer­i­can pre­si­dent Frank­lin Roos­e­velt, held in the East Room of the White House in Wash­ing­ton, DC.  The tune is St. Catherine arranged by Henry Frederick Hemy.  Hemy was born November 12, 1818, New­cas­tle-up­on-Tyne, Eng­land.  played the or­gan at St. An­drew’s Ro­man Ca­tho­lic Church in New­cas­tle, and lat­er taught mu­sic at Tyne­mouth and at St. Cuth­bert’s Coll­ege, Ushaw, Dur­ham.  He died June 10, 1888, Har­tle­pool, Cleve­land, Eng­land and is buried at St. Andrew’s, New­cas­tle-up­on-Tyne.

Lyrics by Frederick Faber


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, 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.