Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Faith of Our Fathers

September 15th, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

When I was a kid in the 1950s one of my family’s favorite Christmas LPs was Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas. My favorite selections included “Jungle Bells” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” but my dad could never hear “Faith of Our Fathers” too often.  With Bing being both Irish and Catholic and with my dad’s preference for Irish Christmas songs, I just assumed that “Faith of Our Fathers” had to have some kind of Irish Catholic heritage.

Well, it turns out that I was wrong.  According to this article by Gordon Seely, “Faith of Our Fathers” was written by Father Frederick William Faber, a British convert from Anglicanism, a collaborator with soon-to-be-Saint John Henry Newman, the founder of the London Oratory, and the author of about 150 hymns. (Included in these is “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All,” which any child attending St. Charles in Greece in the 1950s should still remember today, as the nuns had us singing it at least once a week back then.)

According to Dr. Seely, the original words to “Faith of Our Fathers” went as follows,

Stanza One: 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!

Refrain: Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.

Stanza Two: Faith of our fathers, we will strive to win all nations unto Thee; and through the truth that comes from God, We shall then be truly free.

Stanza Three: 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.

Today, that last stanza is usually replaced with this one,

Alternate Stanza Three: 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.

Bing Crosby (or someone at Decca Records) also seems to have had a problem with Father Faber’s second stanza and replaced it with something substantially less triumphalistic.

Crosby’s Stanza Two: 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?

Listen to Crosby’s rendition  here. (Note: You will only get to hear the whole song once and will then be asked to buy it.)

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