Tag Archives: Anglo-Catholic

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – 29 Jun 13

Frederick William Faber

Frederick William Faber

Opening Voluntary: Intermezzo – Eric H. Thiman (1900-1975)


There’s a wideness in God’s mercy #469 – ST. HELENA

The text for the offertory hymn today, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” is selected and adapted from a 19th century hymn by Frederick William Faber, born 1814 in Calverly in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  He enrolled in Balliol College at Oxford in 1832 where he became acquainted with the Anglo-Catholic preaching of the Oxford Movement that was beginning to develop within the Church of England. Faber himself received Holy Orders in the Church of England in 1839.  In 1843, he became rector at a church in Elton where he introduced catholic practices such as auricular confession and the use of the sanctoral cycle. There was, however, a strong Methodist presence in the parish, and a number of disaffected persons began to pack his church each Sunday in order to ridicule his catholic leanings.  After a prolonged period of struggle, Faber left Elton and entered the Roman Church in 1845. He is remembered particularly in Anglican and Episcopal churches for his hymns, of which several are included in The Hymnal, 1982, perhaps the most famous of which is #558, “Faith of our fathers!”

Today’s offertory hymn, #469, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” contains only six quatrains from a larger work published in Faber’s Oratory Hymns of 1854.  It is believed that this hymn was first used during parish missions conducted in England as well as in Ireland which was still wheeling from the great potato famine in which as many as a million died and a million more emigrated.  In that setting, such strophes as “There is no place where Earth’s sorrows are more felt than up in heaven” take on a particular poignancy. Faber’s text soon became popular in the hymnals of many different denominations, and this hymn was even translated into Swedish.  Hardly any of the borrowers selected the same stanzas for their use, and it was paired with various tunes.  The tune we use today, ST. HELENA, was newly published in The Hymnal, 1982 and was composed by Calvin Hampton in 1978 specifically for this text.  The tune name honors the Sisters of the Order of St. Helena who were resident for a number of years at Hampton’s church in New York.



8th Sunday after Pentecost – 22 Jul 12

Charlotte Elliott

Opening Voluntary: Chorale Prelude on WOODWORTH – Rick Parks (b. 1938)

At the Communion: Voluntary in C – Benjamin Cross (1796-1857)

Closing Voluntary: A Fuge or Voluntary – William Selby (1738-1798)

Hymn Spotlight – “Just as I Am”

The author of “Just as I Am,” Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), came from a family of Anglican clerics and was decidedly from the Evangelical or Low Church persuasion of that church, referring to the Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement as the “Pusey-ite errors.”  She was, unfortunately, in nearly-continuous ill-health during most of her life and, as she was often unable to attend any services, cultivated a personal, introspective religious piety.  Due likely to her sympathies for others in similar difficulties, Charlotte published in 1834 the first edition of The Invalid’s Hymn Book, which was later revised and re-published and eventually contained 112 of her own hymns.  Of her hymns, none is perhaps so well known as “Just as I Am.” Due to its popularity, there is a certain mythology that grew up around the story of the writing of this hymn, but it appears to have been written as a composition to be sold to assist her brother’s efforts to start a school where, at nominal cost, the daughters of poor clergymen might be educated. Thus, the hymn initially appeared in print with the note, “Sold for the benefit of St. Margaret’s Hall, Brighton.”  Her brother’s gratitude for her work was reflected in his later comment that, “In the course of a long ministry, I hope I have been permitted to see some fruit of my labors; but I feel far more has been done by a single hymn of my sister’s.” Percy Dearmer related that this hymn was of particular comfort to the daughter of the poet, William Wordsworth, on her deathbed.  That daughter’s husband wrote to Dearmer, “I do not think that Mr. Wordsworth could bear to have it repeated in his presence, but he is not the less sensible of the solace that it gave his one and matchless daughter.”  The tune WOODWORTH was first paired with the text in 1860 by William B. Bradbury (1816-1868) and was his own composition.  It has been a lasting association for over 150 years.

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