I am sorry that this is a little late as the Feast of St John Fisher and St Thomas Moore in the traditional calendar was a few days ago on 22nd June. However in the new calendar it is still to come on 6th July.
I attended the John Fisher School at Purley in Surrey in the late fifties and early sixties. In fact I was there for 11 years. When I joined the school the headmaster was Canon Byrne, who had been headmaster since the school's founding, 50 years before. Canon Byrne had written the school hymn, which was a tribute to John Fisher (John Fisher has not been canonised at the time the hymn was written). Here are the words.
Sharing Christ’s Priesthood, high honour, dread burden,
Steadfast amid all its manifold cares,
Friend of the poor, of the aged, the dying,
Saint of the Priesthood, give ear to our prayers,
And pray for us now.
Patron of learning, enriching, ennobling,
The home of the scholar, inspirer of youth;
Through thy far vision, athwart the late ages,
The lamp of true wisdom, the torchlight of truth.
Illumine us now.
Counsellor of State, ever tireless in service,
Dauntless defender of faith without stain;
Alone thou didst see and rebuke the first heralds
Of heresy, liberty’s cloak – and its bane:
O counsel us now.
Alone of thy peers thou didst brook the displeasure
Of King and his court, God’s law to proclaim;
Loyal to England and Christ’s earthly vicar.
Death found thee fearless, despising the shame.
O strengthen us now.
Gentle yet stern, like John the beloved,
Aflame with the fire of the Baptist’s zeal;
England’s own Chrysostom, Saint of the Priesthood,
St John of England, before thee we kneel:
O plead for us now.
I am pleased to be able to report that the hymn is still sung at the school now, although less frequently that in my day. I am also pleased to report that another tradition of the school continues. That is of producing candidates for the priesthood. Some well known priests in the traditional world are products of the John Fisher School. These include Fr Tim Finigan, Fr Sean Finnegan and Fr Mark Higgins.
It is a pity that the hymn has not been taken up more widely by the church. Canon Byrne certainly had a talent with words and a good appreciation of the character of St John Fisher. Unfortunately, I cannot reproduce the tune here. It is an unusual tune for a hymn, mostly being in triple time, with the final line of each verse being quite different.