Frederick William Faber

Frederick William Faber

Frederick William Faber (28 June 1814 – 26 September 1863), British hymn writer and theologian, was born at Calverley, Yorkshire, where his grandfather, Thomas Faber, was vicar.

Faber 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 special praise from Keble. Among his college friends were Dean Stanley and Roundell Palmer, 1st Earl of Selborne.

In January 1837, he was elected fellow of National Scholars Foundation. 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 Wilfrid's, in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, called Wilfridians[1] (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 (Brompton Oratory), 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.

He was an eloquent preacher, and a man of great charm of character. It is mainly as a hymn-writer, however, that Faber is remembered.


Among his best-known hymns are:

Those hymns are widely used in Protestant collections as well; indeed, finding a Protestant hymnal which does not include "Faith of Our Fathers" is difficult, albeit with the Marianism and Roman Catholicism amended. Faber was a fervent supporter of congregational singing and wrote his hymns in an age when English Roman Catholics did not necessarily feel comfortable singing the hymns of their Protestant neighbors. So Faber, as a Catholic, expanded their hymns suitable for congregational singing and encouraged the practice. Thus, reciprocally, it was only a matter of time before Faber's hymns emerged in non-Catholic churches.[2]

In addition to many pamphlets and translations, Faber published the following works:

  • All for Jesus
  • The Precious Blood
  • Bethlehem
  • The Blessed Sacrament
  • The Creator and the Creature
  • Growth of Holiness
  • Spiritual Conferences
  • The Foot of the Cross (8 vols., London, 1853-1860).


External links

sv:Frederick William Faber

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