Frederick William Faber

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Holiness is an unselfing of ourselves.

Frederick William Faber (June 28, 1814September 26, 1863) was an English hymn writer and theologian.


  • There is seldom a line of glory written upon the earth's face, but a line of suffering runs parallel with it; and they that read the lustrous syllables of the one, and stoop not to decipher the spotted and worn inscription of the other, get the.least half of the lesson earth has to give.
    • Sights and Thoughts in Foreign Churches and among Foreign Peoples (London: J.G.F. and J. Rivington, 1842), p. 288.
  • Faith is a letting down our nets into the untransparent deeps at the divine command, not knowing what we shall take.
    • Sights and Thoughts in Foreign Churches and among Foreign Peoples (London: J.G.F. and J. Rivington, 1842), p. 545.
  • See! he sinks
    Without a word; and his ensanguined bier
    Is vacant in the west, while far and near
    Behold! each coward shadow eastward shrinks,
    Thou dost not strive, O sun, nor dost thou cry
    Amid thy cloud-built streets.
    • "On the Ramparts at Angoulême", in The Rosary and Other Poems (London: James Toovey, 1845), p. 61.
  • Now we must remember, that if all the manifestly good men were on one side, and all the manifestly bad men on the other, there would be no danger of any one, least of all the elect, being deceived by lying wonders. It is the good men ,good once, we must hope good still, who are to do the work of the Antichrist, and so sadly to crucify afresh the Lord whom they … more than profess to love. Bear in mind this feature of the last days, that their deceitfulness arises from good men being on the wrong side.
    • Devotion to the Church (London: Richardson and Son, 1861), p. 27.
  • The buried talent is the sunken rock on which most lives strike and founder.
    • Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects (London: Thomas Richardson and Son, 1866), Vol. II, p. 343.

All for Jesus (1854)

All for Jesus, or The Easy Ways of Divine Love (London: Richardson and Son, 1854)
  • All our lives long we might talk of Jesus, and yet we should never come to an end of the sweet things that are to be said about Him. Eternity will not be long enough to learn all He is, or to praise Him for all He has done; but that matters not; for we shall be always with Him, and we desire nothing more.
    • Ch. I: "The Interests of Jesus", p. 2.
  • What another being is life when we have found out our Father; and if we work, it is beneath His eye, and if we play, it is in the light and encouragement of His smile. Earth's sunshine is heaven's radiance, and the stars of night as if the beginning of the Beatific Vision; so soft, so sweet, so gentle, so reposeful, so almost infinite have all things become, because we have found our Father in our God.
    • Ch. II: "Sympathy with Jesus", p. 55.
  • When men do anything for God, the very least thing, they never know where it will end, nor what amount of work it will do for Him. Love's secret, therefore, is to be always doing things for God, and not to mind because they are such very little ones.
    • Ch. VII: "Thanksgiving", p. 280.

Growth in Holiness (1855)

Growth in Holiness, or The Progress of the Spiritual Life (Baltimore: John Murphy & Co., 1855)
  • Is the amount of scrupulous attention which I am paying to the government of my tongue at all proportioned to that tremendous truth revealed through St. James, that if I do not bridle my tongue, all my religion is vain?
    • Ch. VI: "External Conduct", p. 72.
  • Exactness in little duties is a wonderful source of cheerfulness.
    • Ch. XIV: "Spiritual Idleness", p. 186.
  • How are we to overcome temptations? Cheerfulness is the first thing, cheerfulness the second, and cheerfulness the third. The devil is chained. He can bark, but he cannot bite, unless we go up to him and let him do so.
    • Ch. XIV: "Temptations", pp. 292–293.
  • Words cannot tell the abhorrence nature has of the piecemeal captivity of little constraints. And as to little temptations, I can readily conceive a man having the grace to be roasted over a slow fire for our dearest Mother's Immaculate Conception or the Pope's Supremacy, who would not have the grace to keep his temper in a theological conversation on either of these points of the Catholic faith.
    • Ch. XVI: "Temptations", p. 297.

The Creator and the Creature (1858)

The Creator and the Creature, or The Wonders of Divine Love (London: Richardson and Son, 1858)
  • This world is … only the porch of another and more magnificent temple of the Creator's majesty.
    • Book I: "The Case Stated between the Creator and the Creature", Ch. 2: "What It Is to Be a Creature", p. 58.
  • Holiness is an unselfing of ourselves.
    • Book I: "The Case Stated between the Creator and the Creature", Ch. 2: "What It Is to Be a Creature", p. 77.
  • If our thoughts break their bounds, and run out beyond the Church … to those without, I have no profession of faith to make about them, except that God is infinitely merciful to every soul, that no one ever has been, or ever can be, lost by surprise or trapped in his ignorance; and, as to those who may be lost, I confidently believe that our Heavenly Father threw His arms round each created spirit, and looked it full in the face with bright eyes of love, in the darkness of its mortal life, and that of its own deliberate will it would not have Him.
    • Book III: "Objections Considered", Ch. 2: "The Great Mass of Believers", pp. 392–393.

Spiritual Conferences (1859)

Spiritual Conferences (Baltimore: John Murphy & Co., 1859)
  • Kindness has converted more sinners than either zeal, eloquence, or learning.
    • Ch. I: "Kindness", § 1: "On Kindness in General", p. 23.
  • No kind action ever stopped with itself. Fecundity belongs to it in its own right. One kind action leads to another. By one we commit ourselves to more than one. Our example is followed. The single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make fresh trees, and the rapidity of the growth is equal to its extent. But this fertility is not confined to ourselves, or to others who may be kind to the same person to whom we have been kind. It is chiefly to be found in the person himself whom we have benefited. This is the greatest work which kindness does to others,—that it makes them kind themselves.
    • Ch. I: "Kindness", § 1: "On Kindness in General", p. 29.
  • Kind thoughts are rarer than either kind words or kind deeds. They imply a great deal of thinking about others. This in itself is rare. But they imply also a great deal of thinking about others without the thoughts being criticisms. This is rarer still.
    • Ch. I: "Kindness", § 2: "Kind Thoughts", p. 39.
  • The habit of judging is so nearly incurable, and its cure is such an almost interminable process, that we must concentrate ourselves for a long while on keeping it in check; and this check is to be found in kind interpretations.… We must grow to something higher and something truer than a quickness in detecting evil.
    • Ch. I: "Kindness", § 2: "Kind Thoughts", pp. 44–45.
  • We must have passed through life very unobservantly, if we have never perceived that a man is very much himself what he thinks of others.
    • Ch. I: "Kindness", § 2: "Kind Thoughts", p. 46.
  • The very attempt to be like our dearest Lord is already a well-spring of sweetness within us, flowing with an easy grace over all who come within our reach.
    • Ch. I: "Kindness", § 3: "Kind Words", p. 55.
  • To children is there any happiness which is not also noise?
    • Ch. I: "Kindness", § 4: "Kind Actions", p. 77.
  • There is a great deal of self-will in the world, but very little genuine independence of character.
    • Ch. III: "Self-Deceit", § 1: "Simplicity", p. 193.
  • A spiritual life without a very large allowance of disquietude in it is no spiritual life at all. It is but a flattering superstition of self-love.
    • Ch. III: "Self-Deceit", § 2: "The Fountains of Self-Doubt", pp. 199–200.
  • I find great numbers of moderately good people who think it fine to take scandal. They regard it as a sort of evidence of their own goodness, and of their delicacy of conscience; while in reality it is only a proof either of their inordinate conceit or of their extreme stupidity.
    • Ch. VIII: "On Taking Scandal", p. 347.
  • Other things being equal, a person beginning the spiritual life with a taste for reading has a much greater chance both of advancing and of persevering than one who is destitute of such a taste. Experience shows that it is almost equal to a grace. The hardest thing in the world is to think, that is, to think real thought.
    • Ch. IX: "On a Taste for Reading", p. 363.
  • There is hardly ever a complete silence in our souls. God is whispering to us wellnigh incessantly. Whenever the sounds of the world die out in the soul or sink low, then we hear these whisperings of God. This is so invariable that we come to believe he is always whispering to us, only that we do not always hear, because of the hurry, noise, and distraction which life causes as it rushes on.
    • Ch. XII: "All Men Have A Special Vocation", p. 458.

Hymns (1871)

Hymns (London: Thomas Richardson and Son, 1871)
  • O Majesty unspeakable and dread!
    Wert Thou less mighty than Thou art,
    Thou wert, O Lord! too great for our belief,
    Too little for our heart.
    • "The Greatness of God", st. 1, p. 14.
  • I have no cares, O blessed Will!
    For all my cares are Thine;
    I live in triumph, Lord! for Thou
    Hast made Thy triumphs mine.
    • "The Will of God", st. 9, p. 18.
  • Labor is sweet, for Thou hast toiled,
    And care is light, for Thou hast cared;
    Let not our works with self be soiled,
    Nor in unsimple ways ensnared.
    Through life's long day and death's dark night,
    O gentle Jesus! be our light.
    • "Evening Hymn at the Oratory", st. 5, p. 252.
  • For right is right, since God is God;
    And right the day must win;
    To doubt would be disloyalty,
    To falter would be sin.
    • "The Right Must Win", st. 19, p. 281. Compare: "That right was right, and there he would abide", George Crabbe, Tales, Tale xv, "The Squire and the Priest".
  • 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 the Lord.
    • "Come to Jesus", st. 13, p. 291.
  • The sea, unmated creature, tired and lone,
    Makes on its desolate sands eternal moan.
    • "The Sorrowful World", st. 11, p. 370.
  • Labour itself is but a sorrowful song,
    The protest of the weak against the strong.
    • "The Sorrowful World", st. 15, p. 371.
  • Dear Lord! in all our loneliest pains
    Thou hast the largest share,
    And that which is unbearable
    'Tis Thine, not ours, to bear.
    • "After a Death", st. 15, p. 384.
  • Hark! Hark! my soul, angelic songs are swelling
    O’er earth’s green fields and ocean’s wave-beat shore;
    How sweet the truth those blessed strains are telling
    Of that new life when sin shall be no more!
    • "The Pilgrims of the Night", st. 1, p. 385.
  • O Paradise! O Paradise!
    Who doth not crave for rest?
    Who would not seek the happy land,
    Where they that love are blest?
    • "Paradise", st. 1, p. 423.
  • O Paradise! O Paradise!
    The world is growing old;
    Who would not be at rest and free
    Where love is never cold?
    • "Paradise", st. 2, p. 423.

On St Joseph



  • Many indeed there are, who, while they bear the name of Christians, are totally unacquainted with the power of their divine religion. But for their crimes the Gospel is in no wise answerable. Christianity is with them a geographical, not a descriptive, appellation.
    • Sometimes attributed to Faber, but actually from a book by his uncle George Stanley Faber, A Practical Treatise on the Ordinary Operations of the Holy Spirit (London: F.C. and J. Rivington, 1813), p. 143.
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