The hymn, “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” was written by John Francis Wade, an 18th century Catholic layman involved in the music business in France. Copies of the hymn migrated to Portugal and then to England. First written in Latin — the original version begins with the words, Adeste Fideles — an Anglican clergyman, Frederick Oakeley, translated it into English. Today it is one of the most popular Advent/Christmas hymns, and is sung by Christians around the world.
One of the reasons for its popularity is the joyful character of its words and music. “O Come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,” it says — and the music has a joyful, triumphant lilt to go with the joyful, triumphant words.
The hymn calls us to come to Bethlehem to behold the baby Jesus. It calls us to come and adore him. It reminds us of the angel choir that accompanied Jesus’ birth — and of the shepherds who gathered around his cradle. It reminds us that God calls us, too, to sing Christ’s praises — and to give him glory in this Christmas season.
Christmas is a busy season, and we have a thousand things on our minds and a thousand things to do. But through it all, let us remember to come and adore the Christ who came into the world in this season to bring us light for our darkness — and joy — and life eternal.
— Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan