Come, All Ye Faithful
Kenneth W. Osbeck
-- The songs of the Christmas season comprise some of the finest music known to
man, and this hymn is certainly one of our universal favorites. It was used in
Catholic churches before it became known to Protestants. Today it is sung by church
groups around the world since it has been translated from its original Latin into
more than one hundred other languages. The vivid imagery of the carol seems to
have meaning and appeal for all ages in every culture.
original Latin text consisted of four stanzas. The first calls us to visualize
anew the infant Jesus in Bethlehem's stable. The second stanza is usually omitted
in most hymnals, but it reminds us that the Christ child is very God Himself:
God of God and Light of Light begotten,
Lo, He abhors not the Virgin's womb; Very God, begotten, not created-O come, let
us adore Him.
The next stanza pictures
for us the exalted song of the angelic choir heard by the lowly shepherds. Then
the final verse offers praise and adoration to the Word, our Lord, who was with
the Father from the beginning of time.
years this hymn was known as an anonymous Latin hymn. Recent research, however,
has revealed manuscripts that indicate that it was written in 1744 by an English
layman named John Wade and set to music by him in much the same style as used
today. The hymn first appeared in his collection, Cantus Diversi, published in
England in 1751. One hundred years later the carol was translated into its present
English form by an Anglican minister, Frederick Oakeley, who desired to use it
for his congregation. The tune name, "Adeste Fideles," is taken from the first
words of the original Latin text, and translated literally means "be present or
near, ye faithful."
O come, all ye
faithful, joyful, and triumphant; come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem; come and behold
Him, born the King of angels:
choirs of angels, sing in exultation; sing all ye bright hosts of heav'n above;
glory to God, all glory in the highest:
Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning; Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv'n;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord.
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