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Text:O Come, All Ye Faithful
Author (attributed to):John Francis Wade
Translator:Frederick Oakeley
Composer (attr.):John Francis Wade
Media:MIDI file

340. O Come, All Ye Faithful

1 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!

2 God of God, Light of Light eternal,
lo, he abhors not the virgin's womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created; Refrain

3 Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye bright hosts of heaven above:
"Glory to God, all glory in the highest!" Refrain

4 Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing; Refrain

Text Information
First Line: O come, all ye faithful
Title: O Come, All Ye Faithful
Author (attributed to): John Francis Wade (1743)
Translator: Frederick Oakeley (1841)
Refrain First Line: O come, let us adore him
Meter: irreglar
Language: English
Publication Date: 1982
Scripture: ;
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Bethlehem; Christmas
Notes: Other translators also
Tune Information
Composer (attr.): John Francis Wade (1743)
Meter: irreglar
Key: G Major
Source: Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised (desc.)
Copyright: Descant © 1947, Hymns Ancient and Modern, Ltd.

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Luke 2:4-7
st. 3 = Luke 2:13-14
st. 4 = John 1:14

In this well-known and loved Christmas hymn, we are invited as God's faithful people to go to Bethlehem and adore Christ the Lord (st. 1). We sing words borrowed from the Nicene Creed to express the Christian faith about the incarnation (st. 2). Then after exhorting the angels to sing their praise (st. 3), we greet Christ on his birthday (st. 4). The text has two unusual features for such a popular hymn: it is unrhymed and has an irregular meter.

John Francis Wade (b. England, c. 1711; d. Douay, France, 1786) is now generally recognized as both author and composer of this hymn, originally written in Latin in four stanzas. The earliest manuscript signed by Wade is dated about 1743. By the early nineteenth century, however, four additional stanzas had been added by other writers, A Roman Catholic, Wade apparently moved to France because of discrimination against Roman Catholics in eighteenth-century England–especially so after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. He taught music at an English college in Douay and hand copied and sold chant music for use in the chapels of wealthy families. Wade's copied manuscripts were published as Cantus Diversi pro Dominicis et Festis per annum (1751).

The translation in the Psalter Hymnal is based primarily on the work of Frederick Oakeley (b. Shrewsbury, Worcester, England, 1802; d. Islington, London, England, 1880), who translated the text for use at the Margaret Street Chapel (now All Saints', Margaret Street) in London (1841). It is also based on translations found in both F. H. Murray's A Hymnal for Use in the English Church (1852) and William Mercer's (PHH 35) Church Psalter and Hymn Book (1854).

Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, England, Oakeley was ordained in the Church of England in 1826. He served at Balliol College, Lichfield Cathedral, Whitehall, and Margaret Street Chapel in London. Influenced by the Oxford Movement, Oakeley and Richard Redhead (PHH 255), organist of Margaret Chapel, instituted "high" liturgies there, eliciting the charge of "Romanism." Oakeley also asserted in a pamphlet that; even though he would not "teach," he certainly should be allowed to "hold" all Roman Catholic doctrines. These views caused him to be suspended from his office. Rather than retract his statement, he joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1845 and associated himself with John Henry Newman. Following his reordination in the Roman Catholic Church, Oakeley worked among the poor in the Westminster area of London. In his writings he defended the Roman theology and practices of worship. He also wrote four volumes of verse as well as Historical Notes on the Tractarian Movement (1865).

Liturgical Use:
Christmas Day; a "must" hymn for a Christmas festival of lessons and carols (especially in more elaborate performances involving choir and instruments).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Some scholars have suggested that Wade fashioned ADESTE FIDELES from melodic fragments of stage music. In the original Wade manuscripts the tune was in triple meter. It was changed to its present form by 1782 and published in the elder Samuel Webbe's (PHH 112) Essay on the Church Plain Chant.

Some Protestant hymnals have published ADESTE FIDELES as a setting for other texts; for example, Ira D. Sankey (PHH 73) used this tune for "How Firm a Foundation." But the tune and text are now commonly used together, and "O Come, All Ye Faithful" remains one of the most-loved Christmas hymns.

The tune is a fuguing tune; it begins chordally and uses some imitation in the refrain. The harmonization in the Psalter Hymnal is from The English Hymnal (1906); the descant is from Hymns Ancient and Modern (revised ed., 1947). Sing the stanzas in unison and the refrain in parts.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.

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