Posted by: rcottrill | June 28, 2010

Today in 1814 – Frederick Faber Born

Frederick William Faber began his career as a Calvinist and a clergyman in the Church of England. Later in life, under the influence of John Henry Newman, he got involved in the Oxford Movement and became a Roman Catholic.

Faber was re-baptized a Catholic, and took the name of Wilfred. His followers were known as Wilfridians. He was an admirer of the hymns of John Newton and William Cowper and, though he confessed a lack of any musical ability, he tried to create some hymns that would be acceptable in his new-found religious orientation. (For more of Faber’s hymns, see Today in 1863.)

Where the teachings of Catholicism and Protestantism agree–and there are a number of points on which they do–Faber’s hymns have gained acceptance with the latter. My God, How Wonderful Thou Art, and There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy have found their way into many hymn books. Faith of Our Fathers did too, once some strongly Catholic lines were removed.

A touch of the Catholic influence is still evident in There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy, in the second line of the second stanza given below–“And more graces for the good.” The grace of God (His unmerited favour) is mentioned nearly 160 times in the Bible. But it is never spoken of in the plural. It is simply His abundant grace, referring to His divine enablement. As Paul puts it, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (I Cor. 15:10).

Monsignor J. D. Conway, in his book Facts of the Faith, claims that “the sacraments…are divinely established channels through which graces flow” (p. 53). He speaks of “inumerable sorts of active graces” (p. 43), and explains the Roman Catholic teaching that “the Mass…brings to us daily that fountain of all graces, the cross of Christ.” 

But we must immediately question the claim that this pattern is “divinely established.” There is nothing of this in the Word of God, which invites the believer simply to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may…find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). No official clergy or formal rituals need to intrude between us and the throne of God.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Saviour;
There is healing in His blood.

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

(2) Today in 1851 – Eliza Hewitt Born
Eliza Edmunds Hewitt trained to be a school teacher, and was valedictorian of her class. But her teaching career was sidelined by a spinal condition that kept her bedridden for a long period, leaving her a semi-invalid. It’s believed that this condition may have related to something that had happened in the classroom. She was struck in the back with a heavy slate by a boy she was trying to discipline.

Even after she retired from teaching, Eliza Hewitt continued to have a strong interest in children. She served as a Sunday School superintendent for much of her life. She was a friend of Fanny Crosby’s, had a cousin who was a hymn writer (Edgar Stites, who wrote Simply Trusting), and also wrote many hymns herself. (For more of Eliza Hewitt’s hymns see the second item under Today in 1813.)

The writer of one of our hymns, No Other Plea (My Faith Has Found a Resting Place), remained something of a mystery for years. You will sometimes see it attributed to a Lidie H. Edmunds, but nothing is known of such a person. This was later discovered to be a pen name of Eliza Edmunds Hewitt.

It is a fine song, speaking with great clarity of the basis for our salvation. We aren’t saved by joining a particular church, or by adhering to a particular creed. We are saved by the grace of God, through personal faith in Christ (Jn. 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9). As Eliza Hewitt puts it:

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Saviour’s name,
Salvation through His blood.


Responses

  1. […] (2) Today in 1920 Eliza Hewitt Died Eliza Edmunds Hewitt lived her entire life in the city of Philadelphia. She taught school for awhile, but developed spinal trouble and was confined to bed for many years. During that time of suffering, she devoted herself to writing, and produced an amazing collection of popular gospel songs. Many of them are still in use a century later. (Some of these were written under the pen name Lidie H. Edmunds. For more about the use of this name and about Eliza Hewitt, see the second item under Today in 1814.) […]

  2. Very interesting information about My faith has found a resting place.

    • Thanks. Glad to hear from you.

  3. […] more about Faber and a beautiful hymn, see Today in 1814.) Another hymn of his is Hark, Hark, My Soul. In spite of the fact that one English clergyman […]

  4. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  5. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  6. […] Wordwise Hymns (Eliza Hewitt born, died) The Cyber […]


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