O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant,
O Come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, Born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
God of God, Light of Light,
Lo! He abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, Begotten not created. Chorus
Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation;
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, In the highest; Chorus
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning;
Jesu, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing. Chorus
Scripture references Luke 2:11-15, John 1:14
Frederick Oakeley, D.D., who translated Wade’s original four stanzas was born September 5, 1802, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. His father was Charles Oakeley, governor of Madras. Oakeley attended Christ Church, Oxford, and took Holy Orders with the Church of England in 1828. By 1839, he was the incumbent of Margaret Street Chapel, London, was the prebendary at Lichfield Cathedral, and was preaching at Whitehall. It was at Margaret Chapel in 1841 that Rev. Oakeley translated the Latin hymn Adeste Fideles into English. Originally, the first line was "Ye faithful, approach ye." It wasn't published at that time, but its use in the Margaret Chapel lead to widespread popularity.
Subsequently his interest in the Oxford Movement forced him to resign his appointments with the English Church. In 1845, he followed John H. Newman in converting to Roman Catholicism. He rewrote the opening of the hymn to read:
O come, all ye faithful,
He became canon at Westminster (Catholic) Cathedral in 1852. For many years he worked among the poor of Westminster. His poetry collections include Lyra Liturgica: Reflections in Verse for Holy Days and Seasons (1865) He died January 29, 1880, at Islington, and was buried in St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, London.
The Oxford Movement was an affiliation of High Church Anglicans, most of whom were members of the University of Oxford, who sought to demonstrate that the Church of England was a direct descendant of the Christian church established by the Apostles. It was also known as the Tractarian Movement after its series of publications Tracts for the Times (1833–1841); the Tractarians were also called Puseyites (usually disparagingly) after one of their leaders, Edward Bouverie Pusey, Regius Professor of Hebrew at Christ Church, Oxford. Other prominent Tractarians included John Henry Newman, a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford and vicar of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin; John Keble; Archdeacon Henry Edward Manning; Richard Hurrell Froude; Gerard Manley Hopkins; Robert Wilberforce; Isaac Williams; and Sir William Palmer
The Oxford Movement was attacked for being a mere Romanising tendency, but it began to have an influence on the theory and practice of Anglicanism. It resulted in the establishment of Anglican religious orders, both of men and women, and an emphasis on liturgy and ceremony. Its effects were so widespread that the Eucharist gradually became more central to worship, vestments became common, and a considerable number of Catholic practices were introduced into worship. Inevitably this led to controversy which often ended up in court. Partly because bishops refused to give livings to Tractarian priests many of them ended up working in the slums, giving rise to a critique of social policy, local and national. The establishment of the Christian Social Union which debated issues such as the just wage, the system of property renting, infant mortality and industrial conditions, and to which a number of bishops were members, was one of the results.
The extra four Latin verses were translated by William Brooke
See how the shepherds, Summoned to His cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
We too will thither Bend our hearts' oblations Chorus
Child, for us sinners Poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, Loving us so dearly? Chorus
Lo! Star-led chieftains, Magi, Christ adoring,
Offer Him frankincense and gold and myrrh;
We to the Christ-child, Bring our hearts oblations: Chorus
There shall we see Him, His Eternal Father's
Everlasting Brightness now veiled under flesh;
God shall we find there, a Babe in infant clothing;
This last verse has not come into common usage in English, neither have subsequent translations by Owen West
Everlasting splendor of the [Eternal] Father
We shall see in a garment of flesh;
God, infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Chorus
Or Paul Hodges.
Father eternal, Thine eternal splendour
Now veiled in flesh our eyes shall see:
God as an infant, swaddling clothes about him.
William Thomas Brooke was born January 9, 1848. He was educated at the City of London School and after entering commercial life, he became interested in hymnology, learning much from Daniel Sedgwick. Originally a Baptist, Brooke converted to the Church of England in 1867.
Brooke’s four new verses were inserted these after the first two verses of the Oakeley translation. This new version was printed in the Altar Hymnal in 1884. Later, the last two verses from Oakeley were appended as the last two verses of the combined version. This became the basis of the version printed in The English Hymnal (1906), which has become the standard reprinting of this carol.
In his lifetime, Brooke contributed hymns to many Victorian periodicals. One of his other works was titled Churchman's Manual of Private and Family Devotion (1882). He died in 1917.
During the 19th century the melody was set to many texts, including "How Firm A Foundation" (Ira Sankey, et al, eds., Gospel Hymns: Nos. 1 to 6 Complete, New York: Biglow & Main, 1894, #613).
The hymn has been translated into at least 125 languages and is one of the most popular of all Christmas hymns.
The refrain “O come let us adore Him.” is sometimes sung at extempore Brethren-style communion services; a strange departure from its Anglo-Catholic origins.
In secular life the tune is best known for the refrain “Why are we waiting” sung all over the English speaking world by those stuck in a queue.