Sunday, 7 December 2008

O Come All Ye Faithful

This carol is generally attributed to John Wade, a British exile living in France after fleeing the Jacobean rebellion. He earned a living by teaching music and copying plain chant and hymn manuscripts for private use. Around 1741 Wade put the Latin text of “Adeste Fideles” to music and later included it in his 1751 publication of Cantus Diversi. There are conflicting theories that Wade wrote the original text of “Adeste Fideles” himself or took the words from an anonymous Latin Hymn, written by monks, possibly as early as the 13th century. The original four verses of the hymn were later extended to a total of eight, (the eighth verse is rarely sung), three of them probably by Abbé Etienne Jean François Borderies. It is thought that Abbé Borderies heard the hymn sung while exiled in England during the French Revolution and wrote the three additional stanzas after he returned to France in 1794. In 1853 the familiar English translation first appeared, attributed to the Reverend Frederick Oakeley.
Oakeley was ordained into the Church of England in 1828, switching to Roman Catholicism in 1845. He was appointed canon at Westminster Cathedral in 1852 and for many years he worked among the poor of Westminster. Small of stature, lame and short-sighted, he did not look like a charismatic person, but his writings, charm and personality meant he exercised a wide influence. He is best remembered for his translation of “Adeste Fideles.”
This was originally written for the Songfacts website.

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