O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL
Latin hymn, 18th century
English translation by Frederick Oakeley, 1802–1880
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about!” … (Luke 2:15, 20)
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 100 other languages. The vivid imagery of the carol seems to have meaning and appeal for all ages in every culture.
The 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.
For many 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:
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation; sing all ye bright hosts of heav’n above; glory to God, all glory in the highest:
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: O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.
For Today: Matthew 2:1, 2; Luke 2:9–14; John 1:14
Ask God to help you and your family make this Christmas season the most spiritual one you have yet known. Worship Him—Christ, the Lord!