Ascension Lutheran Church – Citrus Heights, CA – Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA

Hymn of the Week for December 25, 2022 – O Come, All Ye Faithful

Adeste, fideles,
laeti, triumphantes,
venite, venite in Bethlehem;
natum videte
regem angelorum:
venite, adoremus,
venite, adoremus,
venite, adoremus Dominum.

It seems like everyone has a favorite Christmas song or hymn or carol, whether it be about a dancing snowman, or what happened to Grandma on her way home Christmas Eve, or the baby Jesus asleep on the hay.  No doubt, the favorite of many is O Come, All Ye Faithful.

This hymn was originally written in Latin as “Adeste Fideles” by John Francis Wade, an English Catholic in the 18th century.  Born in England in 1711 or 1712, Wade moved to France in the mid-1700’s due to persecution of Roman Catholics, especially following the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745.  Taking up residence in Douay, Wade made a living by teaching music and by hand-copying chant manuscripts for use in the chapels of wealthy families.  Wade is now recognized as both the author and composer of “Adeste Fideles”.  The earliest manuscript of this hymn was signed and dated by Wade in 1743.

This hymn was translated into English by Frederick Oakeley, a 19th century Englishman who graduated from Oxford and took Holy Orders in the Church of England, serving in Lichfield, Whitehall, and London.  As his views shifted, it became apparent that he could no longer remain an Anglican, a position which at the time meant his degree from Oxford would be retracted.  The question was tried, his degree was indeed suspended unless Oakeley retracted his opinions, and Oakeley resigned his positions within the Church of England and be came a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

There is some light-hearted debate on social media as to what is *the* favorite “Christmas chord”.  Mostly appearing in iconic organ settings, there is “wild” debate over whether that chord is the “he-” in the refrain of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” or “Word” in verse 4 (ELW 283) of “O Come, All Ye Faithful”.  Your friendly neighborhood music director has an opinion, and you can find it at the 3:37 mark of the video below from King’s College Cambridge 🙂