Keeping the Hymns Close By

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Author – John Francis Wade, 1711 – 1786
English Translation- Frederick Oakley, 1802 – 1880
Published in 1751When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made know to us.” Luke 2:15

The songs of the Christmas season comprise some of the finest music known to man, and this hymn is certainly a universal favorite. It is sung by church groups around the world, having been translated from its original Latin into more than one hundred languages.
John Francis Wade, author of this hymn, taught music and became renowned as a copyist of musical scores. In those days, the printing of musical scores was cumbersome, and copying them by hand was an art. His work was exquisite.
In 1744, Wade produced a copy of a Latin Christmas carol beginning with the phrase, Adeste Fidelis, Laeti triumphantes. For many years historians believed he had simply discovered an ancient hymn by an unknown author, but most scholars now believe Wade himself composed the lyrics and set to music by him in much the same style as used today. Seven original hand-copied manuscripts of this hymn have been found, all of them bearing Wade’s signature.
The original text consists of four stanzas. The first calls us to visualize anew the infant Jesus in Bethlehem’s stable. The second stanza, usually omitted from most hymnals, 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 over Bethlehem’s plains 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.
The hymn was published in England in 1751. One hundred years later the carol was translated into its present English from 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.”

Taken from Joy to the World! Copyright © 1999 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Taken from Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan Copyright © 2003 Robert J. Morgan. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson
Frederick Oakley

Frederick Oakley