Born: June 28, 1814, Calverley vicarage, West Yorkshire, England.
Died: September 26, 1863, Brompton, Kensington, Middlesex, England.
Buried: Oratory House, Rednal, Birmingham, England.
Son of an Anglican cleric, Faber graduated from Balliol College, Oxford. He was ordained an Anglican minister, and became rector of Elton (then in Huntingdonshire, now in Cambridgeshire) in 1843.
Three years later, he switched to Roman Catholicism and founded the Brotherhood of St. Philip Neri, in King William Street, Strand. He later moved to the Brompton Oratory.
Faber published a number of prose works, and three volumes of hymns. It was in Jesus and Mary that many of his best hymns first appeared. In its preface, he wrote:
It was natural 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 to translations they do not express Saxon thoughts and feelings, and consequently the poor do not seem to take to them.
The domestic wants of the Oratory, too, kept 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.
Eleven, however, of the hymns were written, most of them, for particular tunes and on particular occasions, and became very popular with a country congregation.
They were afterwards printed for the schools at St. Wilfrid’s, and the very numerous applications to the printer for them seemed to show that, in spite of very glaring literary defects, such as careless grammar or slipshod metre, people were anxious to have Catholic hymns of any sort.
The MS. of the present volume was submitted to a musical friend, who replied that certain verses of all or nearly all the hymns would do for singing; and this encouragement has led to the publication of this volume.