Faith of Our Fathers, Hymn of the English Martyrs

Hymns praising God and his saints are one of the most beautiful ways Catholics can honor God and his Christian faith. Numerous hymns have been created by priest and laymen alike. Faith of Our Fathers is one of such hymns.

Faith of Our Fathers was created by Fredrick Faber an Anglican convert to catholicism. Faber was a priest for the Church of England but later converted to the Roman Catholic Church and became a catholic priest. Father Faber moved to London where he established the Oratorians with blessed John Newman also a priest and hymn writer.

Father Faber had been writing hymns as an Anglican, and became reinterested in hymn writing after his conversion. “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 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.” Father Faber described in his book Jesus and Mary: Catholic Hymns for Singing and Reading (1849).

One hundred and fifty hymns were written by Father Faber, however he always regarded Faith Of our Fathers as his most spectacular work. The hymn draws parallels to the English Catholic martyrs. Which is appropriate regarding Father Faber’s conversion from Anglicanism. The main refrain of the hymn is as follows:

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 ’til death.”

Father Faber understood the price his English ancestors payed to keep their Catholicism, one can clearly see he had a sort of ethnic pride as he wrote the words to the hymn honoring the English martyrs.

Years later, this hymn has become very famous. Many renditions have been made and choir voices can be heard resounding the hymn in praise.                                                                                                                                                         The lyrics to the hymn can be found here