December 5. “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful” – attr. John F. Wade (c, 1611-1786)
Oh come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
Oh come ye, Oh come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
Oh, come, let us adore Him, Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
The highest, most holy, Light of light eternal,
Born of a virgin, a mortal he comes;
Son of the Father, Now in flesh appearing! Refrain.
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
Sing,, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, In the highest; Refrain.
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. Refrain.
For hundreds of years, the popular Christmas carol "O Come, All Ye Faithful" was attributed to an unnamed cleric from the Middle Ages. Other stories say that Saint Bonaventura wrote it. But when an English scholar found seven signed manuscripts of the song, the true story of English Catholic Priest John Francis Wade emerged.
Wade was a cleric from the mid 1700's whose work included researching and restoring copies of historical church music. He had left England during a time of great conflict between Catholics and the Church of England. Wade made France his home and shared beautiful copies of music written in calligraphy-like script to churches all over that country.
Around 1750, Wade finished his own composition in Latin, a melody called "Adeste Fideles" and a year later published it with completed music and lyrics.
But, in 1841, when a Frederrick Oakley translated Wade's song from Latin to English, the credit to Wade was left out! Time and again, Wade was forgotten until hundreds of years later when the English scholar Maurice Frost found those original manuscripts!
"O Come, All Ye Faithful" is one of the oldest and most popular Christmas songs. It gained popularity at the turn of the century when Christmas caroling becamee a holiday tradition in communities around America. Since then, it has been translated into 150 languages, made the top ten on the music charts, and been remade countless times.