The Story Behind…“O Come, All Ye Faithful”

The Story Behind…
“O Come, All Ye Faithful”

Sometime in the early part of the 18th century an unknown French hymnist penned the words and music for “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” The hymn first appeared in a collection by John Francis Wade, priest of a private chapel, in 1751. At that time it was in Latin.

Since that time over 40 different English translations have been made. The one most popular today is that of Oakley (1802-1880) which was made in 1841. Dr. Oakley was born in Shrewsbury, England, on September 5, 1802. He was educated privately at Oxford becoming a Fellow at Balliol College and taking orders in the Church of England. Later he went into the Roman Catholic Church and for many years was canon of the diocese of Westminster.

Nothing is known of the composer of the tune, “Adeste Fideles” or “Portugese Hymn.” For sometime it was supposed to have been written by one of two men, a father and son both named John Reading. The elder was an English organist who died in 1792. The son was a well-known organist and choirmaster. It appears, however, that these men simply picked up the tune from the Duke of Leeds, a director of the Concert of Ancient Music about the year 1785. The Duke had first heard the hymn performed at the Portugese Chapel, and assuming it to be of Portugese origin, he introduced it as, “The Portugese Hymn.”

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.