This hymn is dedicated to my beloved patron saint, St. Philip Neri.
This is the full, original text from an 1852 edition of Fr. Faber’s hymnal Jesus and Mary. It is listed under the title “St. Philip in England” in that hymnal:
Saint Philip came from the sunny South,
From the streets of holy Rome;
His heart was hot with the love of souls,
And England gave him a home.
He had never slept outside the town
More than half his quiet life;
But his heart so burned, in heaven he turned
A pilgrim, and man of strife.
Through many a land and o’er many a sea
With his staff and beads he came;
Men saw him not, but their hearts grew hot,
As though they were near a flame.
In France and Spain, and in Polish towns,
He planted his School of Mirth,
In Mexico, and in rich Peru,
Nay, in every nook of earth.
He came himself, that travelling Saint! .
Felt, if not heard or seen;
It was not enough his sons should be
Like what Philip himself had been.
Dear England he saw, its cold, cold hearts;
Quoth he, What a burning shame
That hearts so bold should be still so cold;
Good truth! they have need of my flame!
He came with his staff, he came with his beads;
You would know the old man by sight,
If he were not a Saint who hides his face
And his virgin eyes so bright.
Tell me if ever your heart of late
Hath been strangely set on fire;
Have you been hardly patient with life,
And looked on death with desire?
Has earth seemed dull, or your soul been full
Until you were fain to cry?
Or have holy Names burnt you like flames,
And you knew not how or why?
Hath sin seemed the easiest thing in the world
To put at arm’s length from yourself?
Hath Mary, sweet Mary, grown precious to you,
Like a miser’s hidden pelf?
If it so be, O listen to me!
Rejoice, for Saint Philip is nigh;
At Jesu’s Name he hath lit his flame,
And you felt him passing by.
He is out on earth to spread Mary’s mirth,
And that is—saving poor souls;
And happy are those on whom he throws
But one of his burning coals.
This is the way that Saint Philip works!
He comes in the midst of your cares,
He passes by, turns back on the sly,
And catches you unawares.
Light to your eyes, and song to your ears,
A touch that pricks like a dart,
’Tis Philip alone works in hearts of stone,
And Mary taught him his art.
Now down on your knees, good neighbours, please ;
Thank our dear Lady for this,—
That Philip hath come to an English home
With those winning ways of his.
Ask him to stay full many a day,
A hardworking Saint is he!
And is it not true there is much to do
In this land of liberty?
Now read me aright, good people, pray!
’Tis Philip himself is here;
’Tis Philip’s flame more than Philip’s name
That you all should prize so dear.
For Philip’s sons are but Philip’s staff,
A staff that he wieldeth still;
Good father he is to those sons of his,
But a sire with a right strong will.
He is not content his sons should be
Like what their father hath been;
He works himself; he trusts no one else;
He is here to-day, I ween.
Bid him God speed, since the Roman Saint;
An Englishman fain would be;
Long may he bide by his new fireside,
For a right merry Saint is he!
Words: Fr. Frederick William Faber, C.O., 1849.
Tune: No tune seems to exist in this meter.