January 26, 2021

A Hymn for Ordinary Time (7): For Ecclesia Week

By Chaplain Mike

The following words are from the Preface to Lyra Fidelium: Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostles Creed, by S.J. Stone (1866)

Most clergymen are aware how many of their parishioners, among the poor especially, say the Creed in their private prayers. And they cannot but feel how this excellent use, as also its utterance in public worship, is too often accompanied by a very meagre comprehension of the breadth and depth of meaning contained in each Article of the Confession of Faith.

Such a feeling first suggested to the Author the probable usefulness of a simple and attractive explanation of the Creed in the popular form of a series of Hymns, such as might be sung or said in private devotion, at family prayer, or in public worship.

Prose expositions indeed of every kind are not wanting, from the great work of Bishop Pearson downwards, but these are more adapted for the student than for the general worshipper, for education rather than for devotion; and there can be little doubt but that the poetical form is more likely to be effectual in securing an abiding place in the general mind, and also in exercising an influence upon heart and life.

To this end the Author set about the composition of the following Hymns, and though, now the work is done, he is painfully sensible that he has not reached the point either of fulness or simplicity at which he aimed, he humbly trusts that GOD will make them nevertheless of some use in His Church.

Article IX of the Creed is, “I believe…in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints”.

Stone writes this about the ecclesial nature of our faith: I believe that the Church of Christ is, has been, and will be one and the same: that it is holy in respect of (1) its Author and End, (2) the vocation of all the baptized, (3) the true saints within it:  that it is One, by unity of origination, of faith, of hope, of charity, of sacraments, of discipline: that it is Catholic, as being universally disseminated, as teaching all truth, as possessing all graces: that its truly sanctified members have communion with the Holy Trinity, with the Angels, and with all Saints on earth and in Paradise.”

The hymn Stone wrote to seal this truth in their hearts is perhaps the greatest hymn expressing the nature of Christ’s Church that has ever been written. It is reproduced here in its original form, with all verses.

'St. Philips Church Steeple' photo (c) 2009, Ted - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/The Church’s One Foundation

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word:
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride,
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation
Yet one o’er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation
One Lord, one faith, one birth,
One Holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one Holy Food,
And to one Hope she presses
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against or foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song!

‘Mid toil and tribulation
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest!

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s Hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden-land.

O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
For ever shall abide!


  1. I love this hymn. As I’ve known it, the second verse begins “Elect from every nation.” Did Stone change that or did someone else, and was the change from “elect” or to “elect?”

  2. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

    We sing this one every so often. It’s one of my favorites 🙂

  3. The creed is good old fashioned dogma. It sums up our case clearly and succincntly. Old movies become dated but the creed is still going strong.

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