Mother Dearest, Mother Fairest (Mary Help Us)

This is a hymn of petition to Mary for help.

The author and composer are unknown:  it was probably written by an anonymous American religious sister in the late19th century.

The meter of the text is 87 87, and it has been set to several tunes:
  • OCP have re-published it crediting, "The Wreath of Mary" hymnal published by The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur of Philadelphia in 1883, and naming the tune as OUR LADY OF HELP - traditional. 
  • The 1913 "American Catholic Hymnal" attributed it to and "P.J.K & S", set to an unnamed tune in 2/4 time which was attributed to "M.H".
  • The 1907 "Sunday School Hymn Book" published by the Sisters of Notre Dame included it under the title Our Lady of Help, but with no attribution.   This has it set to the 3/4 meter tune used by OCP and most (if not all) recent recordings.

The "English Hymns in the Commons" section of Musica Sacra credits it to Fr Frederick Faber (1814 - 1863), but this may be due to the phrase "Mother dearest, mother fairest" being used in the refrain of Faber's hymn "O Flower of Grace, Divinest Flower" - the two are definitely different hymns.


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Signer with light orchestral backing:

Children's(?) choir with piano and violin etc - professional recording:

Singer with piano:

Instrumental - light orchestral version:


Mother dearest, Mother fairest,
Help of all, who call on thee.
Virgin purest, brightest, rarest,
Help us, help, we cry to thee.

Mary, help us, help we pray. 
Mary, help us, help we pray. 
Help us in all care and sorrow. 
Mary, help us, help we pray. 

Lady, help in pain and sorrow,
Soothe those rack'd on beds of pain,
May the golden light of morrow,
Bring them health and joy again.

Help our priests, our sisters lowly,(*)
Help our pope, long may he reign,
Pray that we who sing their praises
May in heaven all meet again.

Lady, help the absent loved ones.
How we miss their presence here.
May the hand of Thy protection
Guide and guard them far and near.

(*) Many early publications of this hymn included the phrase "our virgins lowly" - totally this is usually replaced with "our sisters lowly"

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