The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Adeste, Fideles

"Hymn on the Prose for Christmas Day"
Also known as Prosa In Nativitáte Dómini,
the Portuguese Hymn, and Adeste, Fidelis

Words and Music: John Francis Wade (c. 1711-1786), circa 1743 / 4
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Translations on this site are found on Adeste, Fideles Translations.

See: Notes on Adeste Fideles

Source: Dom John Stephan, O.S.B., Adeste Fideles - A Study On Its Origin And Development (“Publications,” Buckfast Abbey, South Devon, 1947).
See also: Adeste Fideles - Dom Samuel Ould (Latin, 1901)

 

1. Adeste Fideles laeti triumphantes,
Veníte, veníte in Bethlehem.
Natum vidéte, Regem Angelorum:

Veníte adoremus,
Veníte adoremus
Veníte adoremus Dóminum

2. Deum de Deo, lumen de lúmine,
gestant puellae viscera
Deum verum, genitum non factum:

Veníte adoremus,
Veníte adoremus
Veníte adoremus Dóminum

3. Cantet nunc io chorus Angelórum
cantet nunc aula caelestium:
Gloria in excelsis Deo:

Veníte adoremus,
Veníte adoremus
Veníte adoremus Dóminum

4. Ergo qui natus, die hodierna
Jesu, tibi sit glória
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum:

Veníte adoremus,
Veníte adoremus
Veníte adoremus Dóminum

These are the original four verses created by Wade (language, capitalization and punctuation as per Dom John Stéphan, both for these verses and for the verses which follow). These verses are sometimes referred to as the "English Cento."

Three additional verses were subsequently created by Abbé Étienne Jean François Borderies (1764-1832), and printed in the Office de St. Omer (1822). According to Dom Stéphan, Borderies composed these verses, which he coupled with the first stanza by Wade:

5. En grege relicto, Humiles ad cunas
Vocati pastores approperant;
Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus.

6. Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum
Velatum sub carne videbimus,
Deum infantem, pannis involutum

7. Pro nobis egenum Et foeno cubantem,
Piis foveamus amplexibus;
Sic nos anamtem quis non redamaret?

These three verses, joined by Wade's first verse, are sometimes referred to as the "French Cento."

A eighth verse was added in the mid 19th century to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany; it's authorship is unknown:

8. Stella duce, Magi, Christum adorantes,
Aurum, thus, et myrrham dant munera;
Jesu infanti corda praebeamus.

See Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott, eds., The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), #70.

Erik Routley gives the following literal translation of verse six: "We shall see the Eternal Splendour of the Eternal Father veiled in flesh. God as a child wrapped in Swaddling-clothes." (The English Carol. New York: Oxford University Press, 1959).

Samuel Webbe's Motet of Adeste, Fideles, ca. 1795

 

Instrumental Sheet Music by Aptommas (New York: J. F. Browne, 1885)

Source: Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets.
(American Memory, Performing Arts-Music)

 

Instrumental Sheet Music "Adeste Fideles With Variations, Op. 403" by Charles Grobe (Philadelphia: Lee & Walker, 1854)

 

Settings Other Than Wade's Adeste, Fideles

 1. The De La Salle Hymnal for Catholic Schools and Choirs (New York: The La Salle Bureau, 1913), p. 5, with setting by Lerler.

 

2. Henry, Duke of Norfolk, and Charles T. Gatty, Arundel Hymns (London: Boosey & Co., 1905), p. 34.

 

3. Edwin A. Bedell, The Church Hymnary (New York: Charles E. Merrill & Co., 1899), #180, p. 86, setting #2 by J. Barnby.

 

The English translations on this site do not follow the usual order of verses. The English Hymnal, 1906, #614, The New English Hymnal, 1986, #30, The New Oxford Book of Carols, 1992, #70, all of which give this order: 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 3, 4. See: O Come All Ye Faithful - Version 3 for this order. Note that Hymns Ancient and Modern (Old Edition, 1889) and The Book of Common Praise (1909) give only verses 1-4, as found above (and as reproduced in Version 1: O Come, All Ye Faithful).

Paul Hodges, a friend of this site, gives the following order, which he obtained from a companion to one of the major English or Scottish hymnals: 1, 2, 5, 8, 6, 7, 3, 4.

The order of verses given here are those as reproduced by Dom John Stéphan, The Adeste Fideles: A Study On Its Origin and Development (Devon, England: Buckfast Abbey Publications, 1947). Of course, you should feel free to re-order them in any way that is meaningful to you.

Notes from Rev. Matthew Britt, O.S.B., Hymns from the Breviary and Missal (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1922), pp. 105-106.

Author unknown. 18th cent. Translation [of O Come, All Ye Faithful] by Canon Oakeley. There are forty translations. The complete hymn consists of eight stanzas, four of which are commonly used at Benediction during Christmastide. There are four translations of this hymn in Mr. Shipley's Annus Sanctus; the one by J. C. Earle is a translation of the complete hymn. The Adeste Fideles is not found in the Breviary or Missal. It is a beautiful invitation to the faithful "to come to Bethlehem" in spirit, and worship the new-born Saviour.

"With the exception of the Dies iræ and the Stabat Mater," says W. J. Grattan-Flood, Mus.D., "it is doubtful if there is a more popular hymn in our churches than the Adeste Fideles" (The Dolphin, Dec, 1905). The above translation is literal. In line 15, Io is an interj. expressing great joy. Line 17, aula cœlestium, the court of the blessed, the heavenly court.

Translations on this site are found on Adeste, Fideles Translations.

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