Judy Rose's Saturday Page

Who composes our hymns?

January 19, 2008

It's been a slow news month (r more appropriately, a NO news month) here in Home Page Country and while looking around for something interesting for today's page, I came across a book of hymns titled Then Sings My Soul, compiled by Robert J. Morgan.The book not only contains many familiar hymns but each hymn is accompanied by an accounting that includes what I like to call the five Ws, i.e., Who, What, When, Where and Why. If you ever, or ever again, have occasion to join in the singing of "Faith of Our Fathers," maybe after reading of its origin, the words will have a profound....or perhaps a more profound...meaning.

"Faith of Our Fathers," 1849, Frederick William Faber (1814- 1863) was raised in an Anglican parsonage in Calverley. Yorkshire, England; but both his parents died when he was young. When he moved to Oxford University as a young man, he came under the influence of the great Roman Catholic, John Henry Newman, author of "Lead, Kindly Light." Following graduation, Faber entered the Anglican ministry, but his soul was troubled. He was drawn to the historic, reverent liturgy of the Catholic faith..On Sunday night, November 16, 1845, he announced to his congregation that he intended to leave the Church of England and be ordained a Roman Catholic. For the remainder of his short life -- Faber died at fifty-nine -- he endeavored to provide a body of hymns for English Catholics to sing. Perhaps his most endearing is "Faith of Our Fathers."

What most Protestants don't know is that Faber wrote this song to remind the Catholic Church of its martyrs during the days of the Protestant King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. "Good Queen Bess," for example, used fines, gallows, gibbets (an upright post with a projecting arm for hanging the bodies of executed criminals as a warning ), racks, and whips against those who said Mass, honored the pope, or harbored a priest. Often, in the middle of the night, thugs would burst into Catholic homes and drag the residents away to be scourged, fined, or seared with glowing irons. The dungeons were choked with victims.

Nicholas Owen was such a victim. Probably a builder by trade, Owen designed countless hiding places for endangered Catholics. He hid them in secret rooms, between the walls, and under the floors. He hid them in stone fences and in underground passages. He designed nooks and crannies that looked like anything but hiding places.

When Nicholas was at last betrayed, he was dragged to the Tower of London and his arms were fixed to iron rings. There he hung for hours, his body dangling. Weights added to his feet increased the suffering. The tortures continued until March 2, 1606, when "his bowels broke in a terrible way' and he passed to his reward.

It was for these Catholic heroes, martyred at the hands of so-called Protestant monarchs, that "Faith of our Fathers" was originally written. Now, of course, this great hymn reminds us all of the noble sacrifices made by those in every branch of Christian family who have passed their faith on to us "...in spite of dungeon, fire and sword."

This day in history

1862: American Civil War: Battle of Mill Springs -- The Confederate States of America suffers its first significant defeat in the conflict.

1883: The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey.

1920: The United States Senate votes against joining the League of Nations.

1922: Home Page Country: The new Watson and Altimus Garage at Mundy's Corner will handle "Durant" cars.

1931: Home Page Country: Gasoline wars in Nanty Glo reduce prices to 15 cents per gallon.

1942: WWII: Japanese forces invade Burma.

1977: President Gerald Ford pardons Iva Toguri D' Aquino (a.k.a. "Tokyo Rose").

1983: The Apple Lisa, the first commercial personal computer from Apple Computer, Inc. To have a graphical interface and a computer mouse, is announced.

2006: The New Horizons probe is launched by NASA on the first mission to Pluto.

Funny bones

I did some searching of the Home Page archives and came across the joke below. It was sent by Bob Kennedy of Willows, California, and appeared in the February 10, 2001, Postcard.


With the help of a fertility specialist, a 60-year-old woman had a baby. All her relatives came to visit and meet the newest member of their family. When they asked to see the baby, the 60-year-old mother said, "not yet." A little later they asked to see the baby again. Again, the mother said, "not yet." Finally, they say, "When can we see the baby?" And the mother says, "When the baby cries." They ask, "Why do we have to wait until the baby cries?" The mother replies, "because I forgot where I put it."


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Complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonal articles

Today's chuckle

If your garage is too small, you can always enlarge it by having your wife park your car.

Thought for today

"Have a variety of interests ... These interests relax the mind and lessen tension on the nervous system. People with many interests live, not only longest, but happiest."
— George Mathew Allen

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