Text: Frederick Williams Faber (1849)
Tune: ST CATHERINE (Hemy)
Genre: Western Hymn
Scripture References: Psalm 22:4-5; Matthew 5:16,44; Luke 9:23-27; Acts 7:32, 16:22-34; 1 Corinthians 16:13-14; Ephesians 6:13; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 1:5, 4:3-7; Hebrews 11, 12:1-2; Revelation 2:10
Liturgical Uses/Seasons: Assurance, Commitment, Confession of Faith, Lent, Easter
Themes: Endurance, Faith, Persecution, Perseverance
Hymnal Reference: Baptist Hymnal 2008 edition #594
Frederick wrote hymns that he believed would assist his fellow Christians with their faith and life. “Faith of Our Fathers” is one of those. Henri Hemy wrote the musical composition for “Faith of Our Fathers.” The arrangement was created initially for Catherine of Alexander, a fourth-century lady sentenced to death because of her faith. The hymn recognizes the importance of Catholic martyrs in England who were killed since the time of Henry VIII, who established the Church of England in the mid-16th century. Today, it still recognizes the martyrs who died defending the faith. There are two versions of the hymn, “Faith of our Fathers.” In Ireland, seven verses are sung, while only four stanzas are sung in England. In the Baptist Hymnal, only three verses However, Hymn editors have changed the wordings to be more acceptable to Protestants. The tune St. Catherine is familiar in the United States and Nigeria. Ireland and the United Kingdom use a different tune titled Sawston.
In Nigeria, this hymn is not very different from how it is used worldwide, for it has a message that speaks to similar situations globally. However, the specific programs or times that the hymn is used in Nigeria are during Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and founders’ day. It is also used as a hymn of commitment after the sermon talking about our commitment to expanding the kingdom of God, especially at a time like this when the church or Christianity in Nigeria is under siege. Also, it is sung to encourage one another to move on with the work of the gospel with the inspiration that many died to keep what we have today. It reminds Christians to keep and continue the legacy left by our fathers of the faith.
Lyrics in Yoruba
‘Gbagbo Baba wa mbe sibe
Laarin iji ti nja tika
Okan wa kun f’ayo pupo
Nigbat’a gbo’ro ogo ni
Igbagbo mimo Baba wa
Ao gbekele titi d’opin
Gbagbo Baba wa la o tele
Titi gbogb’aye yo mo o
Oro ooto lat’oke wa
Ti to aye d’ominira
‘Gbagbo Baba wa, nko wa lati
Maa fi’fe han s’ore at’ota
Ao kede ife re pipe
Pelu ‘rele ailabawon
(Yoruba translation by Sir Semoore Badejo (KCW))
Lyrics in English
Faith of our fathers! living still
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword.
O 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.
Faith of our fathers! we will strive
To win all nations unto thee.
And through the truth that comes from God
We all shall then be truly free
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
Contributed by Chesirri Mouma Emmanuella.