The Catolic Secular Forum

Catholic Hymns for Times of Fear and Uncertainty

We live at a time where many still seek to persecute us. Be it be the Boko Haram in Nigeria or other religious extremists, the Catholic faith still faces opposition. This year’s Easter season is one such example. On April 21, 2019, more than 200 people lost their lives during a series of attacks targeted at Catholic faithful in the country. It is sad but should come as no surprise. In 2 Timothy 3:12, Saint Timothy tells us that those who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Nevertheless, we should remember that we can always call upon God during these times of fear and uncertainty. When afraid and anxious, singing the hymns below may help quiet your worries, and make you steadfast in the Lord.

Be Not Afraid by Bob Dufford

Through the years, this hymn has been sung during times of fear and grief. Whether to comfort dying relatives or in times of uncertainty, the message in this song, that we should not be afraid for the Lord always goes before us, has served to strengthen many. 

The hymn was written by Father Bob Dufford in 1972, before his ordination. He wrote it at a time of great anxiety, for he did not know what lay ahead of him, as a priest. Father Dufford gained inspiration for the hymn, from the Annunciation. By relating to Mary, who was also in great fear when an Angel came to her and told her she would give birth to Jesus, he came up with the theme. The words of the Angel to Mary “Do not be Afraid” are the inspiration for the hymn.

Thus, when we find ourselves in times of fear and uncertainty as the faithful in North Korea are , the hymn Be not Afraid will remind us that the Lord is still with us.

Be Still My Soul by Catharina von Schlegel

Though little is known about the composer, the words of the hymn are extremely moving. When in persecution, one may feel isolated and alone. Be Still My Soul is a great hymn for the persecuted. 

By singing this hymn, we remind ourselves that even when dearest friends depart and we find ourselves alone, the Lord will forever remain on our side. The song calms and reassures us by reminding us that in times of sorrow and fear, the Lord shall soothe and comfort us. It tells us that the time is coming when disappointment, grief, and fear shall be no more and we shall finally meet the Lord, as He promised.

Nearer My God to Thee by Sarah Flower Adams

There are few hymns that are more emblematic of times of fear and uncertainty than this. The hymn was inspired by Joshua’s encounter with God in the book of Genesis 28, wherein he called upon the Lord after a frightening dream. 

Perhaps the most memorable occasion when this song was used, was during the sinking of the Titanic. Amidst the chaos, fear, and confusion Wallace Hartley the ship’s bandleader, played this song to calm and reassure the passengers.

When afraid and in doubt, when darkness surrounds us, this song reminds us to call upon the Lord, our salvation.

It is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford

This hymn was written at a time of great suffering and loss. Its author Horatio was a believer in times of great pain and sorrow. His trials started with the death of his son and the Great Chicago Fire that ruined his businesses in 1871. Two years later, on a ship bound for England, he lost all four of his daughters to a shipwreck. It is out of these events that Horatio wrote: When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say; It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Horatio’s hymn can be used during times of sorrow and persecution, to remind us to fix our eyes upon the Lord, and remain faithful.

Message from the Hymns

A common theme in all the hymns above is that in times of trouble, as Catholics we should know where to seek for help. As Christians, when in doubt, in fear, when persecuted and when uncertain, we must seek the Lord, our salvation.