Of all the hymns I would sing at St. Mary’s for the Feast of St. Joseph, Dear Guardian of Mary was my favorite. The choir and congregation also liked it. Father Frederick William Faber (1814-1863) wrote the words of this beautiful hymn, and it first appeared in his hymnal JESUS AND MARY published in 1849. Fr. Faber began writing hymns in 1848 and wrote his first two hymns while on a retreat in Yorkshire. Fr. Faber was a convert to Catholicism and joined the church in 1846. He wrote more than ninety hymns, authored several books, and was declared Doctor of Divinity in the Catholic Church.
In my survey of hymns to St. Joseph which consisted of over one-hundred Catholic public domain hymnals from the late 19th and early 20th century period, I found over sixteen different melodies, four of these melodies were widely used. You can learn more about these melodies in A COLLECTION OF CATHOLIC DEVOTIONAL HYMNS TO ST. JOSEPH, 2021.
Brother Bonitus, FSC (Brothers of the Christian Schools) composed the most widely used melody found in the hymnals I surveyed. He also composed many musical compositions and hymns. Many of Brother Bonitus compositions can be found in the CATHOLIC YOUTH’S HYMN BOOK, 1871 and DE LA SALLE HYMNAL, 1913.
The CATHOLIC YOUTH’S HYMN BOOK was compiled in 1871 by Brother Luke of Mary, FSC (Nicolas Lauer, 1838-1900), assisted by Brother Bonitus, and Brother Bardomian, FCS (George Labrecque, 1836-1901).
The DE LA SALLE HYMNAL was compiled in 1910 by Brothers Chrysostom John, FCS (Joseph J. Conlan, 1863-1917), Camillus Joseph, FSC (Charles J. Merkling, 1852-1921), Theodorus of Milan and Attalus Jerome.
The attributions of Bn., Bro. B., B. Bs, and Bonitus, are all his. Providence led me to an article in the May issue of the DE LA SALLE MONTHY published in May of 1872. The article was an obituary notice for Brother Bonitus. Here is a brief account from that article.