A regrettably popular hymn and gladly reneging on a bad promise

As I was reading the July 9, 2021 issue of the independent fundamental Baptist newspaper, “The Sword of the Lord,” I came across a short article by former Sword editor, Curtis Hutson, in which he misguidedly praised the hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers.”

I know this hymn is sung in many conservative evangelical churches and you may enjoy it yourself. But most evangelicals aren’t aware of this song’s origins. Wikipedia states, “‘Faith of our Fathers” is a Catholic hymn, written in 1849 by Frederick William Faber in memory of the Catholic martyrs from the time of the establishment of the Church of England by Henry VIII and Elizabeth.” The short article doesn’t mention that Frederick William Faber (1814-1863) was a Roman Catholic priest.

The original lyrics written by Faber are as follows:

Faith of our Fathers! living still
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword:
Oh, 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.

Our Fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free:
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them, could die for thee!

Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our Fathers! Mary’s prayers
Shall win our country back to thee:
And through the truth that comes from God
England shall then indeed be free.

Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

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:

Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Protestant choirmasters took this Catholic hymn and altered the lyrics to make it more palatable to non-Catholics. But I’m not in favor of singing a song originally written by a Catholic priest to glorify Catholic “martyrs.” The popes and Catholic prelates of the Reformation-era and their dutiful magistrates were responsible for martyring exponentially more Protestants than Catholics killed by over-zealous Protestants. During the infamous St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (1572) alone, it’s estimated that 10,000 Huguenot Protestants were murdered by the Catholic majority in France. There are plenty of uplifting hymns written by genuinely born-again evangelical Protestants. We don’t need to borrow any hymns written by works-righteousness Roman Catholic priests.

I used to sing “Faith of Our Fathers” as a young Roman Catholic and I dutifully repeated the words, “We will be true to thee till death.” Well, I definitely reneged on that promise, yet I feel zero remorse. Why? Because the “faith of our fathers” of Roman Catholicism is a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. I found out by reading God’s Word and through the elucidation of the Holy Spirit that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone in 1983 and left the Roman Catholic church. No more “faith of our fathers” for me! Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord. I don’t need priests. I don’t need the blasphemous sacrifice of the mass. I don’t need the pope. I don’t need a bogus purgatory, either. I couldn’t merit my salvation for even one day let alone over a lifetime as Catholicism insists its members must do.

Before belting out “Faith of Our Fathers” again, you may want to rethink singing a song that was originally written by a Roman Catholic priest as an anti-Protestant diatribe.

24 thoughts on “A regrettably popular hymn and gladly reneging on a bad promise

  1. How right you are Tom! There are thousands and thousands of hymns written by men and women who have come by faith to the Lord Jesus. I’ve heard of this hymn but it wouldn’t be commonly sung here. Thanks for this information… there are a few other hymns with dubious origins too but as you say – why sing these when there are many which have their roots in the faith of true believers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! Many believers don’t like CCM music (often with good reason), but the beloved old hymn books have some questionable songs as well.

      Like

  2. I do remember this hymn. I was in the choir when I was in Catholic grammar school and may even have sung it. So much is tainted these days, even within the Protestant church. Thanks for the information Tom, and this good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember singing this back in my days as a charismatic Catholic. Thank you Tom for exposing the truth about this song and where it originated from. So much deception in the church today, I appreciate all you do to expose falsehood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Crissy! It’s hard to imagine what would motivate a Protestant to adapt this anti-Protestant song. Yes, there is so much wrong teaching and deception within big tent evangelicalism today.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! After I was saved it was disappointing to see this anti-Protestant song in evangelical Protestant hymnals, even if some of the blatantly pro-Catholic words were altered.

      Liked by 1 person

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