THERE’S A WIDENESS IN GOD’S MERCY
Frederick W. Faber, 1814–1863
But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. (Psalm 86:15 KJV)
A wealth of truth about the depth of God’s love and mercy is expressed simply but eloquently in this choice two-line hymn text written by Frederick William Faber in the middle of the 19th century. In addition to being known as a man with unusual personal charm, persuasive preaching ability, and excellent writing skills, Faber made his most lasting contribution with the 150 hymn texts he composed during his brief life of 49 years.
Frederick Faber had an unusual spiritual journey. Raised as a strict Calvinist, he strongly opposed the Roman Catholic Church. After education at Oxford, he became an ordained Anglican minister. Gradually, however, he was influenced by the Oxford Movement, which stressed that Anglican churches had become too evangelical—with too little emphasis on formal and liturgical worship. Eventually Faber renounced the Anglican State Church, became a Catholic priest, and spent his remaining years as Superior of the Catholic Brompton Oratory in London.
Faber had always realized the great influence that hymn singing had in Protestant evangelical churches. Determined to provide material for Catholics to use in the same way, he worked tirelessly in writing hymns and publishing numerous collections of them. In 1854 the Pope honored Frederick Faber with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of his many accomplishments. Today we are still grateful for this memorable declaration of the boundless love and mercy of our God to all mankind:
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 Savior; there is healing in His blood.
For the love of God is broader than the measure 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 sweetness of our Lord.
For Today: Psalm 36:5; 103:8–13; Ephesians 1:6–8; 1 John 1:7
Let yourself become immersed in the joy of realizing and accepting in a simple, trusting manner the great mercy of God. Praise and thank Him by singing as you go knowing that—
Osbeck, K. W.
- Thy mercy, O Lord, reacheth unto the heavens, and thy faithfulness unto the clouds. Psalm 36:5
- The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness. He will not always chide, neither keep his anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heaen is above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the East is from the West: so far hath he removed our sins from us. As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him. Psalm 103:8–13
- To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherewith he hath made us freely accepted in his beloved. By whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to his rich grace: Whereby he hath been abundant toward us in all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:6–8
- But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7