“The Love of God is Broader than the Measures of Man’s Mind.”
Frederick William Faber was born 28th June 1814 at Calverly, Yorkshire, England. He grew up in an atmosphere of Calvinism, and attended University College, Oxford, where he obtained his B.A. degree. In 1837 he was elected a Fellow of that College, and took orders in the Church of England, becoming Rector of Elton, Huntingdonshire in 1843.
However, just two years later, he met, and came under the influence of John Henry Newman, who had converted to Rome in 1843, and was persuaded by him to secede to Rome. By 1848 he had founded a community in Birmingham called theWilfridians, which later was merged into the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, with Newman as Superior. In 1849 Faber established a branch of this community in London, which became the Brompton Oratory, in Kensington. Faber presided over this until his death on September 26th 1863.
During his days as a Roman Catholic he wrote many devotional books, amongst which were “Lives of Modern Saints” (1847), “The Foot of the Cross” (1858), and “Notes on Doctrinal Subjects”, (2 Volumes, 1866). He also made collections of verse and was a prolific hymn writer, 150 of which appeared in book form in 1861. Numbers of his hymns, as with those of Cardinal Newman, are still found in most English hymn books. They contain some very thought-provoking language, showing that whatever men may say about Catholicism, these men were true servants of the risen Christ. One may mention such hymns as “My God, how wonderful Thou art,” “Hark, hark, my soul,” and “Souls of men, why will you scatter.”
This last hymn is fragmented in most hymn books, so that none of them give a full rendering. Putting the pieces together, one obtains a most remarkable theology of God’s wonderful character. Here are the words –
Souls of men, why will you scatter, like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts, why will you wander from a love so true and deep?
Pining souls, come nearer Jesus, and Oh, come not doubting thus,
But faith that trusts more bravely His great tenderness for us.
Was there ever kindest Shepherd, half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Saviour who would have us come and gather round His feet?
There’s no place where mankind’s sorrows are more felt than up in heaven;
There’s no place where mankind’s failings have such kindly judgement given.
There’s a welcome for the sinner, and more graces for the good,
There is mercy with the Saviour, there is healing in His blood;
There is plentiful redemption in the blood that has been shed,
There is joy for all the members in the sorrows of the Head.
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;
But we make His love too narrow by false limits of our own,
And we magnify His strictness with a zeal He will not own.
For the love of God is broader than the measures of man’s mind,
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind;
If our love were but more simple we should take Him at His word,
And our lives would be all sunshine in the beauty of the Lord.
It is God! His love looks mighty, but is mightier than it seems,
‘Tis our Father! And His kindness goes far out beyond our dreams;
There is grace enough for thousands of new worlds as great as this,
There is room for fresh creations in that upper home of bliss.