This is a fairly commonly used English proverb which is commonplace in both spoken and written language. Where did the expression originate from and for how long has it been in use?
The proverb is used in order to express that someone must face the consequences of their actions. In general, the consequence is negative or unpleasant.
It is believed that this expression originated in North America in the 19th century. The first recorded usage dates to the year 1834 in the August edition of The New Hampshire Statesman & State Journal which reads “will the editor of the Courier explain this black affair. We want no equivocation, face the music this time.”
There are various theories regarding the expression and the reason it began to be used. One such suggestion relates to the army and the tradition that disgraced offers were “drummed out” of their regiment. This suggestion relates to the idea that the officer literally had to face the music as a result of their actions.
An example of the expression in use can be found in a quote from Philip Brooks. He is quoted to have said “Christianity helps us face the music even when we don’t like the tune.”