Tuesday, January 8, 2013

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Here is another wonderful hymn! I know it is a little late for Christmas hymns, but I was very busy during the Christmas season, and I am going to make up for it now!

Title: Oh Come, All Ye Faithful

Tune: Adeste Fideles

Meter: Irregular

Composer: John Francis Wade (1711-1786)

Author: John Francis Wade (") Tr. Frederick Oakeley ((1802-1880)

               The hymn "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful," was originally written in Latin, and is written to invite Christians to worship Christ at the time of his birth. This text uses multiple references from the Nicene Creed (St 2), and also talks of singing the praises of Angels (St 3), and finally celebrates the arrival of Christ (St 4)! The hymn is irregular in two ways, it does not rhyme, and it has an irregular meter. Even though the hymn has two rare irregularities, it still remains wildly popular. Written by John Francis Wade between 1735 and 1740, this hymn has been translated multiple times, and has been written with four stanzas as well as eight stanzas. The original version of the hymn made its first appearance in Wade's 1751 collection Cantus Diversi pro Dominicis et Festis per Annum, which contained eight stanzas. Of all the different translations of the hymn, the version done by Fredrick Oakeley remains the most commonly used version. Though still popular, the second stanza of this traditional hymn is usually omitted, making it a more universal hymn (leaving out the reference to the Virgin). Though the text is mostly sung in English, Jean Francois Borderies, a French author, composed a new version of the text using the original first stanza, and creating four entirely new stanza's of his own.

               Though not much is known about John Francis Wade, it is known that he was born in either England, or Douai, France. Wade grew up as a Roman Catholic, and was forced to flee from England to France because of his beliefs in the Jacobite Rising in 1745 (He was in support of the uprising). The Jacobite Rising was a failed attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain control of Scotland and turn the country back into an absolute Monarchy. The battles eventually spilled over to England, but because the British Army was able to respond so quickly, the rebellion was spoiled, and Charles Edward Stuart spent the rest of his life in exile. It has not been confirmed, but some experts say that many of Wade's works contained Jacobite artwork that could be seen as having special meaning and specials codes that were used to communicate. The translator of this text, Frederick Oakeley, is a little more well known than Wade.

               Frederick Oakeley was born the youngest son of Sir Charles Oakeley who was at some point the Governor of Madras. Born in Shrewsbury, England, Oakeley was educated in Christs Church at nearby Oxford, where he earned his B.A. in 1824. In 1825, Oakeley won the University prize for a Latin essay, and in 1827 was elected a Fellow of Balliol. Taking holy orders in 1832, Oakeley became Prebendary of Lichfield Cathedral, and in 1837 he became a preacher at Whitehall, and eventually in 1839 he became the Minister of Margaret Chapel in Margaret Street, London. Though Oakeley had grown up in the Anglican Church, he eventually his beliefs began to change. Oakeley's change of views can be traced back to 1827, when Dr. Charles Lloyd, Regius Professor, Gave a lecture at Oxford regarding the history and structure of the Anglican Prayer book. During that time, there was a great demand at Oxford for Missals and Breviaries, which Oakeley sympathized with this movement, and cooperated the London book-sellers to try and meet that demand. In 1845, Oakeley and his opinions about the church had changed so much, that he called attention to his faith to see if he could still hold a degree from Oxford, even though his beliefs had been altered greatly. Eventually, proceedings were held against Oakeley in the Court of Arches, and he was told that he would be perpetually suspended if he did not retract his beliefs. Because of this sentence, Oakeley left his Prebendal Position at the church in Lichfield, and entered into the Roman Catholic Church.

               The tune "Adeste Fideles" was originally known as the "Portuguese Hymn," because it was often times sung in the Chapel of the Portuguese Embassy in London. Because the tune for the hymn was found in a mid 18th-century manuscript with the text, it is assumed that John Francis Wade is responsible for writing the text as well as composing the tune. Because of the influence of the folk operas going on during Wade's life, it can be assumed that the repetition of the final line was inspired by the current style of composing. The melody is very plain and simple, but contains many different opportunities for harmonization, as well as a beautiful descant that is usually played on the organ during the third Stanza.

The Text: 

(1 )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.
(2 )God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo! He abhors not the Virgin's womb;
Very God,
Begotten, not created:
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
(3 )Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above,
Glory to God
In the highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
(4 )Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesu, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

My Take on the Hymn:

               This hymn is very celebratory of the arrival of Christ. It is invitational in nature, because it is saying "O come, let us adore Him." The repetition of the last line emphasizes the desire to worship Christ and be a part of the arrival of our savior. The adoration of Christ is something that comes up during the Christmas season, but should be done all throughout the year. The fourth stanza is my favorite, especially the line "Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing." Christ is the word of God, given to man in the actual flesh. The bible contains three different appearances of the Holy Trinity. The Old Testament refers to God the Father. God is the one who leads the people out of Egypt and to the promise land, and it is also God the Father that comes to Moses and gives him the 10 commandments. Eventually, the New Testament begins, and as is promised in the book of Isaiah, Christ arrives in the flesh as the Son of God. It was during this time that the world was rocked. Christ says in John 20: 29, "'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" God asked us to believe in his power, but there was doubt among the world. In order that there may be no more doubt, and that Man may be saved from sin, God gave us his Son in the flesh. The third and final appearance of the Holy Trinity is in the book of Acts. After Christ has ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit returns to the disciples and shows them how to be faithful, and leads us to creating the church of Christ. God has given us the greatest gift of love in the form of an innocent child, who is born without sin, and is born not in sin, but above it. Let us take time each and every day to adore Christ in his fullness and glory!

The Hymn:

If you cannot read music, just start the Youtube video and follow along!


Jong, Laura De. "O Come, All Ye Faithful." Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2013.

Julian, John. "Frederick Oakeley." - Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2013.

"ADESTE FIDELES." Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2013.

"John Francis Wade." - Hymnary.org. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2013.

1 comment:

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