With its call to all Christians and faith believers in the title, O Come All Ye Faithful is a serious and serene call during the holiday season. This lovely tune is one of the most established Christmas carol choices sung or enjoyed each year during the holiday season.
Known in Latin as “Adeste Fidelis,” O Come All Ye Faithful is a popular Christmas carol whose origins are granted to the English hymnist John Francis Wade. The first rendition of the carol appeared in 1751 in Wade’s collection called the Cantus Diversi. Later, in 1760, it appeared in the Evening Offices of the Church.
Finally, in 1852, the English translation was provided by Frederick Oakeley and William Thomas Brooke. After its English translation, the already popular hymn increased its influence among the public masses that could better understand the lyrics and take the message to heart. The English translation was published in 1852 in Murray’s Hymnal.
Many people think that Saint Bonaventure or even John Redding were the creators of the carol. Since the musical score of this Christmas carol was published in 1782, however, in An Essay on the Church Plain Chant by Samuel Webbe, we know that these dates are incorrect.
While the musical tune has been clearly attributed, the lyrics and text of this Christmas carol are not quite as definitive. Some think that John Wade was also the lyricist of the song, but others think that it might have been written in the 13th century by another author.
Originally, there were only four verses of O Come All Ye Faithful. However, the tune has since been extended to have a total of eight verses. The Abbe Etienne Jean Francois Borderies wrote the additional verses and while a rare, Latin verse is also applicable, it is rarely sung or printed.
Today, verses of O Come All Ye Faithful are often removed during public presentation in order to shorten an already lengthy carol. This song has been loved internationally and has been translated into many other languages in order to spread the beautiful message that this tune offers.
O Come All Ye Faithful
Text: John F. Wade; trans. by Frederick Oakeley and others
Music: John F. Wade; harm. from Collections of Motetts or Antiphons
Tune: ADESTE FIDELES
O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold him, born the King of angels;
O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
lo, he shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten not created;
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;
See how the shepherds, summoned to his cradle,
leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
we too will thither bend our joyful footsteps;
Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
we would embrace thee with love and awe.
Who would not love thee, loving us so dearly?
Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to thee be all glory given.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
Here is also a way for you to learn the song O Come All Ye Faithful with instrumental guitar arrangements.
One of The Most Popular Choices in The Holiday Season
O Come All Ye Faithful was once known as the Portuguese Hymn. The origins of O Come All Ye Faithful were not correctly attributed to Wade until much later in the life of the carol because Wade was a Roman Catholic from England who had to fled with other Catholics during the Jacobite rebellion.
Wade wrote the piece to help support himself with music. Wade’s signature is found on all seven of the original hand-copied manuscripts so it is unlikely that another source could have been the original proponent of this Christmas carol.
Nowadays, O Come All Ye Faithful is sung in both Catholic and Protestant circles and is also sung in both Latin and English. No matter how it is enjoyed, this Christmas carol will continue to be one of the most popular choices in the holiday season.