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,
lo, He abhors not the virgin's womb;
very God, begotten not created; [Refrain]
3 Sing, choirs of angels; sing in exultation;
sing, all ye citizens of heav'n 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 giv'n!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing! [Refrain]
Source: Psalms and Hymns to the Living God #253
|First Line:||O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant|
|Title:||O Come, All Ye Faithful|
|Latin Title:||Adeste Fideles|
|Author (attributed to):||John Francis Wade|
|Translator:||Frederick Oakeley (1841; alt)|
|Meter:||Irregular with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||O come, let us adore Him|
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).
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
Adeste fideles laeti triumphantes. [Christmas.] As to the authorship and actual date of this hymn nothing positive is known. It has been ascribed to St. Bonaventura, but is found in no edition of his Works. Most probably it is a hymn of the 17th or 18th century, and of French or German authorship. The text appears in three forms. The first is in 8 stanzas, the second, that in use in France, and the third the English use, both in Latin and English. The full text [is] from Thesaurus Animae Christianae, Mechlin, N.D. (where it is given as a second sequence for Christmas and said to be "Ex Graduali Cisterciensi"….
In the English and French centos there are various readings; but we need only note three-—st. v., 1. 1, Patris for “Parentis"; st. vii., 1. 1, Io for "hymnos "; and rarely, exultant, for "nunc hymnos"; st. viii., 1. 2, hodierno, for "hodiernâ:" and of these the second is probably the original text. The English cento is composed of st. i., ii., vii. and viii., and the French, generally of st. i., iii., v., vi., and, very rarely, st. iv. also. Towards the close of the last century it was sung both in England and in France at Benediction during Christmastide. As early as 1797 the hymn was sung at the Chapel of the Portuguese Embassy, of which Vincent Novello was organist, and the tune…at once became popular.
In the Paroissien Complet, Paris, of which the "Approbation" is dated July, 28th, 1827, the hymn is given in both the English and French forms. At p. 583 it occurs as, "Hymne Qui se chante, dans plusieurs eglises de Paris pendant le temps de la Nativite;" this is the English form, with various readings, consisting of st. i., ii., vii., viii.; then follows, "Hymne pour le temps de Noel," the ordinary French version st. i., iii., v. and vi., and both also occur in A Collection of Psalms, Hymns, Anthems, &c, Washington, 1830. [William T. Brooke]
Translations in common use:—
1. Come, faithful all, rejoice and sing. Anonymous in 4 stanzas of 5 lines.
2. Ye faithful, approach ye. By F. Oakeley. This is a translation of the English form of the Latin text. It was written in 1841 for the use of the congregation of Margaret Street Chapel, London, of which he was then the Incumbent. It was never published by the translator, but came into notice by being sung in his chapel.
3. 0 come all ye faithful, joyfully triumphant. This form of Canon Oakeley's translation is the most popular arrangement of the Adeste fideles we possess. It first appeared in Murray's Hymnal, 1852, and has passed from thence into a great number of collections both in Great Britain and other English-speaking countries.
4. Be present, ye faithful. In Chope's Hymnal, 1854, and later editions, is Canon Oakeley's tr. rewritten.
5. Approach, all ye faithful.
6. 0 come, all ye faithful, triumphantly sing. By E. Caswall, first published in his Lyra Catholica, 1849, p. 250, and in his Hys. and Poems, 1873, p. 146.
7. Come hither, ye faithful.
8. 0 come, all ye faithful. By W. Mercer. This translation can be distinguished from others beginning with the same first line by the st. iii., which reads, "Raise, raise, choir of angels," &c.
9. Be present, ye faithful. By J. M. Neale. Published in the Hymnal N., enlarged ed., 1858. Although opening with the same line it is a different translation from that in Chope's Hymnal, noted above. The second stanza of Chope reads: "Very God of Very God," and this "God of God, eternal."
10. 0 come, all ye faithfulDraw nigh, all ye faithful
12. 0 come, all ye faithful. By J. Ellerton, written for, and first pub. in Church Hymns, 1871. It may be known by st. iv., which opens with "Thou, who didst deign to be born for us this morning."
13. Draw near, all ye faithful. By R. C. Singleton, in the revised ed. of his Anglican Hymn Book. 1871.
14. Assemble, ye faithful. By T. Darling, in his Hys. for the Church of England, 1861.
15. 0 come, all ye faithful. This arrangement in the Westminster Abbey Hymn Book, 1884, is a cento compiled from the above trs.
16. Hither, ye faithful, haste with songs of triumph. In the American Presbyterian Psalms & Hymns Philadelphia, 1843, No. 174.
Translations not in common use:—
1. Draw near, ye faithful Christians. Evening Office of the Church, 1760.
2. Ye faithful, come triumphant, come. Orthodox Churchman's Magazine and Review, Nov., 1805.
3. Raise we our voices to the Lord of Glory. Ashbourne Collection, Uttoxeter, 1808.
4. Believers assemble, come with songs to Bethlem. Dr. Sutton's Psalms & Hymns, Sheffield, 1807.
5. Ye faithful, triumphant enter into Bethlehem. Psalms & Hymns. Burnley, 1820.
6. O come, all ye faithful, joyful triumph raising. Basil Woodd. Psalms & Hymns, 1821.
7. With hearts truly grateful. Psalms & Hymns. Washington, 1830.
8. O come, ye faithful, and your homage bring. J. Chandler, 1837.
9. O come, all ye faithful, raise the hymn of glory. F. C. Husenbeth's Missal for Use of the Laity (3rd ed.), 1840.
10. Ye faithful souls, approach and sing. J. Meade. Selwood Wreath, 1841.
11. Approach, ye faithful, come with exultation. Jane E. Leeson. Christian Child's Book, 1848.
12. Approach, ye faithful, and with glad accord. Jane E. Leeson. Christian Child's Book, 184«.
13. O hasten, ye faithful. J. R. Beste Church Hymns,
14. O come, all ye faithful. G. Rorison. Hymns & Anthems, 1851.
15. 0 come, all ye faithful. R. Campbell. St. Andrew's Hymnal, 1850.
16. Ye faithful, approach ye. W. J. Blew. Church Hymn Tune Book, 1852.
17. 0 Christian people, come. I. Gregory Smith. Hymn Book for the Service of the Church, 1855.
18. Exulting triumphant, come from every nation. Anon. Guernsey, Reprinted in Notes and Queries, 5th Ser. xi. p. 418.
19. 0 hie, ye believers, raise the song of triumph. F. Trappes, 1865.
20. Come, all ye faithful, joyfully. Anon, in J. F. Thrupp's Psalms & Hymns, 1853.
21. In triumph, joy, and holy fear. J. C. Earle. Shipley's Annus Sanctus, 1884.
22. Come, 0 faithful, with sweet voice. C. Kent. Shipley's Annus Sanctus, 1884.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
There is a sense of urgency to this hymn. Imagine a child, tugging at your hand, saying insistently, “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” In the same way, imagine someone pulling at your sleeve or grasping you by the hand, half dragging you as they run through the crowd, saying over and over again, “Come!” We are told that patience is a virtue, but in this case, impatience is a beautiful thing. For who could stand by and wait when all we want to do is worship our Lord and Savior? Albert Bailey writes, “The poet takes us by the hand and leads us with triumphant song to the cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem, shows us the Babe, and bids us adore” (The Gospel in Hymns, 279). This hymn invites us to sing with the angels, sing with our families, sing with our fellow believers, and with every fiber of our being, worship Christ the Lord.
The Latin text, “Adestes Fideles,” was written by John Francis Wade sometime between 1735 and 1740. His text was translated multiple times, but the translation by Frederick Oakeley is now the almost universal text. A version by Jean Francois Borderies, comprised of the original first verse and four verses written by Borderies, is sung in France. Not every hymnal includes all the verses – Worship and Rejoice and the Baptist Hymnal, for example, do not include the verse beginning “God of God, Light of Light eternal.” The United Methodist Hymnal includes the Latin translation of verse one and the refrain, as well as two verses not found in other hymnals.
ADESTES FIDELES was formerly known as PORTUGUESE HYMN because it was often sung in the chapel of the Portuguese embassy in London. It’s assumed that since the tune was found in a manuscript with the text, dated in the mid-eighteenth century, Wade both wrote the text and composed the tune. Paul Westermeyer notes that this tune, with the repetition of the last line, and the irregular 87 87 47 meter, was “quite remarkable as early as 1744,” and Wade was probably inspired to repeat the last line by the light folk operas of the day (Let the People Sing, 194). This tune and text are sung together universally. David Willcocks wrote a magnificent descant, typically sung on the third stanza, with an alternate organ harmonization supporting unison vocals on the fourth.
This hymn is wonderful accompanied by a choir and many instruments, but its simple melody and beautiful harmonies also make it perfect for light instrumentation and dominant vocals. It’s sung most often at the beginning of a Christmas Day service, but it would also be quite profound at the close of a Christmas Eve service as a hymn of anticipation and excitement with which we go forth into the night before Christmas. The refrain of the hymn, the repeated “O Come, let us adore him,” can be sung as a call to worship throughout the year, often with the added repeated lines, “We’ll praise his name forever,” “We’ll give him all the glory,” and “For he alone is worthy.”
Laura de Jong, Hymnary.org