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!
Osbeck, K. W.
- When Jesus then was born at Bethlehem in Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came Wise men from the East to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is the King of the Jews that is born? for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him. Matthew 2:1-2
- And lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone about them, and they were sore afraid. Then the Angel said unto them, Be not afraid: for behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people. That is, that unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ Jesus the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you, Ye shall find the babe swaddled, and laid in a cratch. And straightway there was with the Angel’s multitude of heavenly soldiers, praising God, and saying, Glory be to God in the high heavens, and peace in earth, and toward men good will. Luke 2:9–14
- And that Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw the glory thereof, as the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father) full of grace and truth. John 1:14