Hymn #23: There's A Wideness in God's Mercy

Frederick William Faber (1814-1863) wrote these words as part of a larger, thirteen-stanza poem entitled "Come to Jesus."  Faber wrote his poems for private devotional use by other Roman Catholics, never intending for them to be sung in corporate worship.

Frederick W. Faber grew up a Calvinist Protestant but converted to the Roman Catholic faith in midlife.  He was rebaptized, taking a new name, Wilfred.  His zeal was rewarded when he was presented with a doctor of divinity degree by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

IN BABILONE is the name of this anonymous Dutch tune, which was first transcribed for a 1710 collection of folk melodies.  It was first used as a hymn tune in 1910, when Ralph Vaughan Williams paired it with "See the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph," an Ascension hymn.

Julius Rontgen (1855-1932), a renown Dutch musician, composer, and director, was asked to harmonize this simple tune for Vaughan Wiliams's 1906 English Hymnal.  Rontgen lived his life in Amsterdam, where he held positions at the Amsterdam Conservatory and Society for the Advancement of Musical Art.