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Adeste Fideles

  1. The Words.
  2. Historical Notes.

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English

Latin

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethelehem;
Come and behold him,
Born the King of angels:
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!
Adeste fideles,
laeti triumphantes;
venite, venite in Bethlehem;
natum videte regem angelorum.
venite, adoremus Dominum.
2
God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin's womb;
Very God,
Begotten, not created:
O come, let us, etc.
II
Deum de Deo,
lumen ad lumine,
gestant puellae viscera,
Deum verum, genitum non factum.
venite, adoremus Dominum.
3
See how the shepherds
Summoned to his cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
We too will thither
Bend our joyful footsteps:
O come, let us, etc.
III
en grege relicto,
humiles ad cunas,
vocati pastores appropiant.
et nos ovanti gradu festinemus,
venite, adoremus Dominum.
4
Lo, star-led chieftains,
Magi, Christ adoring,
Offer him incense, gold, and myrrh;
We to the Christ-child
Bring our hearts' oblations:
O come, let us, etc.
IV
stella duce, Magi
Christum adorantes,
aurum, thus, et myrrham dant munera.
Jesu infanti corda praebeamus:
venite, adoremus Dominum.
5
[No versified English translation]
V
aeterni Parentis
splendorem aeternum
velatum sub carne videbimus,
Deum infantem,
pannis involutem,
venite, adoremus Dominum.
6
Child, for us sinners
Poor and in the manger,
Fain we embrace thee with love and awe;
Who would not love thee,
Loving us so dearly?
O come, let us, etc.
VI
pro nobis egenum
et foeno cubantem
piis foveamus amplexibus;
sic nos amantem quis non redamaret?
venite, adoremus Dominum.
7
Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
'Glory to God
In the highest:'
O come, let us, etc.
VII
cantet nunc 'Io'
chorus angelorum;
cantet nunc aula caelestium,
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
venite, adoremus Dominum.
8
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, etc.
VIII
ergo qui natus
die hodierna.
Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum.
Venite, adoremus Dominum.

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Brief Historical Notes

Composition

For a full account of the earliest sources, consult L'Adeste Fideles Etude sur son développement. par Dom Jean Stéphan, O.S.B., Desclée et Cie, 1949.

The evidence is that this famous hymn was composed by John Francis Wade, a copyist of music and teacher of Latin at Douay sometime in the first half of the 18th century. The earliest existing manuscript shows both words and tune. The cover page is missing, but internal evidence dates it to c.1743.

Wade composed stanzas 1, 2, 7 and 8. Stanzas 3, 5 and 6 were probably composed by Abbé Etienne Jean François Borderies. The suggestion is that Abbé Borderies heard the hymn sung while exiled in England in 1793 and wrote the three additional stanzas after he returned to France in 1794. Verses 1, 3, 4, and 5 were printed in the Office de St Omer, 1822 and form the usual French form of the hymn.
It is not known who composed stanza 4. The earliest authority quoted is c.1868, in the undated Paroissien Romain, printed in Paris.

Translation

The translation is also composite. Stanzas 1, 2, 7 and 8 were translated by F Oakeley in 1841 for the Margaret Street Chapel and were printed in Murray's Hymnal, 1852. Stanzas 3, 4 and 6 were translated by W T Brooke in the Altar Hymnal, 1884.
Stanza 5 has not come into general use in the English speaking countries.

[The Historical Companion to Hymns Ancient & Modern, Frost, Maurice, ed. William Clowes & Sons, Limited. London, 1962.]

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Comments & corrections to Gavin Koh at <Gavvie@bigfoot.com>