O Come, All Ye Faithful
|O Come, All Ye Faithful|
A congregation in England sings the song during Christmas 2006.
|Native name||Adeste Fideles|
"O Come, All Ye Faithful" (originally written in Latin as Adeste Fideles) is a Christmas carol that has been attributed to various authors, including John Francis Wade (1711–1786), John Reading (1645–1692), King John IV of Portugal (1604–1656), and anonymous monks. The earliest printed version is in a book published by Wade, but the earliest manuscript bears the name of King John IV, and is located in the library of the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa. A manuscript by Wade, dating to 1751, is held by Stonyhurst College in Lancashire.
The original four verses of the hymn were extended to a total of eight, and these have been translated into many languages. The English translation of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" by the English Catholic priest Frederick Oakeley, written in 1841, is widespread in most English-speaking countries. The present harmonisation is from the English Hymnal (1906).
The original text of the hymn has been from time to time attributed to various groups and individuals, including St. Bonaventure in the 13th century or King John IV of Portugal in the 17th, though it was more commonly believed that the text was written by Cistercian monks - the German, Portuguese or Spanish provinces of that order having at various times been credited.
In modern English hymnals the text is usually credited to John Francis Wade, whose name appears on the earliest printed versions. However, this is most likely an error of attribution. Wade, an English Catholic, lived in exile in France and made a living as a copyist of musical manuscripts which he found in libraries. He often signed his copies, possibly because his calligraphy was so beautiful that his clients requested this. In 1751 he published a printed compilation of his manuscript copies, Cantus Diversi pro Dominicis et Festis per annum. This is the first printed source for Adeste Fideles.
The version published by Wade consisted of four Latin verses. But later in the 18th century, the French Catholic priest Jean-François-Étienne Borderies (fr) wrote an additional three verses in Latin; these are normally printed as the third to fifth of seven verses. Another, anonymous, additional Latin verse is rarely printed.
The text has been translated innumerable times into English. The most common version today is a combination of one of Frederick Oakeley's translations of the original four verses, and William Thomas Brooke's translation of the three additional verses. It was first published in Murray's Hymnal in 1852. Oakeley originally titled the song “Ye Faithful, approach ye” when it was sung at his Margaret Church in Marylebone (London), before it was altered to its current form.
The song was sometimes referred to as the "Portuguese Hymn" after the Duke of Leeds, in 1795, heard a version of it sung at the Portuguese embassy in London. The most commonly named Portuguese author is King John IV of Portugal, "The Musician King" (reigned 1640–1656). John was a patron of music and the arts, and a considerably sophisticated writer on music; and he was also a composer. During his reign he collected one of the largest musical libraries in the world, which was destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. He also founded a Music School in Vila Viçosa that "exported" musicians to Spain and Italy.
It was at John's Vila Viçosa palace that two manuscripts of the "Portuguese Hymn" have been found and dated to 1640. These manuscripts predate Wade's eighteenth-century versions, whether printed or manuscript. (However, McKim and Randell nonetheless argue for Wade's authorship of the version people are now familiar with.)
Among King John's writings is a Defense of Modern Music (Lisbon, 1649). In the same year (1649) he had a huge struggle to get instrumental music approved by the Vatican for use in the Catholic Church. Aother famous composition of his is a setting of the Crux fidelis, a work that remains highly popular during Lent among church choirs.
Besides John Francis Wade, the tune has been attributed to several musicians, from John Reading and his son, to Handel, and even the German composer Gluck. The Portuguese composer Marcos Portugal or King John IV of Portugal have also been credited. Thomas Arne, whom Wade knew, is another possible composer. There are several similar musical themes written around that time, though it can be hard to determine whether these were written in imitation of the hymn, whether the hymn was based on them, or whether they are totally unconnected.
The hymn was first published by John Francis Wade in his collection Cantus Diversi (1751), with four Latin verses, and music set in the traditional square notation used for medieval liturgical music. It was published again in the 1760 edition of Evening Offices of the Church. It also appeared in Samuel Webbe's An Essay on the Church Plain Chant (1782).
These are the original four Latin verses as published by Wade, along with their English translation by Frederick Oakeley.
Adeste fideles læti triumphantes,
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
These are the additional Latin verses composed in the 18th century, with English prose translations, not from Oakeley:
En grege relicto, humiles ad cunas,
Lo! The flock abandoned, the summoned shepherds
The words of the hymn has been interpreted as a Jacobite birth ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Professor Bennett Zon, head of music at Durham University, has interpreted it this way, claiming that the secret political code was decipherable by the "faithful" (the Jacobites), with "Bethlehem" a common Jacobite cipher for England and Regem Angelorum a pun on Angelorum (Angels) and Anglorum (English). Wade had fled to France after the Jacobite rising of 1745 was crushed. From the 1740s to 1770s the earliest forms of the carol commonly appeared in English Roman Catholic liturgical books close to prayers for the exiled Old Pretender. In the books by Wade it was often decorated with Jacobite floral imagery, as were other liturgical texts with coded Jacobite meanings.
In performance, verses are often omitted – either because the hymn is too long in its entirety or because the words are unsuitable for the day on which they are sung. For example the eighth anonymous verse is only sung on Epiphany, if at all; while the last verse of the original is normally reserved for Christmas Midnight Mass, Mass at Dawn or Mass during the Day.
In the United Kingdom and United States it is often sung today in an arrangement by Sir David Willcocks, which was originally published in 1961 by Oxford University Press in the first book in the Carols for Choirs series. This arrangement makes use of the basic harmonisation from The English Hymnal but adds a soprano descant in verse six (verse three in the original) with its reharmonised organ accompaniment, and a last verse harmonisation in verse seven (verse four in the original), which is sung in unison.
Recordings, film music and other arrangements
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Numerous versions have been recorded by artists of various genres from all around the world. A small sampling includes:
- 1992: An instrumental version is played by a symphony orchestra inside the Carnegie Hall in the film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York; also appears in the 1989 film National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
- 2006: Twisted Sister recorded it on their album A Twisted Christmas, arranged in the same style as their 1984 song "We're Not Gonna Take It" (lead singer Dee Snider has said the song inspired him to write that hit song)
- 2013: One of the tracks on Bad Religion's Christmas Songs
- Stephan, John (1947). "Adeste Fideles: A Study On Its Origin And Development". Buckfast Abbey. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 1 October 2007.
- LindaJo H. McKim (1993). "The Presbyterian Hymnal Companion". p. 47. Westminster John Knox Press,
- Neves, José Maria (1998). Música Sacra em Minas Gerais no século XVIII, ISSN nº 1676-7748 – nº 25.
- "The One Show films at Stonyhurst". Stonyhurst. 19 November 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
- "Frederick Oakeley 1802–1880".
- Randy Petersen, Be Still, My Soul: The Inspiring Stories behind 175 of the Most-Loved Hymns (Tyndale House, 2014), p. 219.
- Spurr, Sean. "O Come All Ye Faithful". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- Crump, William D., The Christmas Encyclopedia, 3rd ed, 2013
- Don Michael Randel (2003). "The Harvard Dictionary of Music". p. 14. Harvard University Press.
- The Sacred Harp, 1860, p. 223: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- The Hymns and Carols of Christmas, Source for other five verses.
- "Carol is 'ode to Bonnie Prince'". BBC. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2007.
- "News & Events : News". 'O Come All Ye Faithful' – Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Christmas Carol. Durham University. 19 December 2008. Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
- Ryan Glab (23 December 2015). "Best movie series: sequels, trilogies, and sagas, oh my!". Ryanglab. Archived from the original on 27 December 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- Jim Slotek (16 November 2015). "Twisted Sister's Dee Snider set to wow audiences with 'Rock 'n' Roll Christmas Tale'". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
- Kris Vire (2 November 2014). "Dee Snider on his Rock & Roll Christmas Tale". Timeout. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
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