The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Hymn on the Prose for Christmas Day

For Christmas and Epiphany

Version 1

Words: "Adeste Fideles," Verses 1-4, John Francis Wade (c. 1711-1786), circa 1743 / 4
 Verses 5-7: Abbé Étienne Jean François Borderies (1764-1832), 1822
Verse 8: Anonymous (19th Century)
Also known as the Portuguese Hymn

Verses 1-4  translated from Latin to English by Frederick Oakeley (1802-1880), 1852;
Verses 5, 7 and 8 translated by William Thomas Brooke (1848-1917)
Verse 6 translations by Owen West and Michael W. Martin.
Translations of some portions attributed to William Mercer (1811-1873)
Other editors have made other changes.

Other Translations: Adeste, Fideles Translations

Music: "Adeste Fideles," John Francis Wade (c. 1711-1786), circa 1743 (or 1744).
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
Meter: Irregular
Attribution of composition to John Reading is incorrect.

See: Notes on Adeste Fideles.

1. 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;

Refrain
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

2. God of God, Light of Light,
Lo! he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, Begotten not created.1 Chorus

3. Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation;
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, In the highest; Chorus

4. Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning;
Jesu2, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing. Chorus

5. See how the shepherds, Summoned to His cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;3
We too will thither Bend our hearts' oblations4 Chorus

The sixth verse has not come into common usage in English. William Brooke provided a translation in 1885 (The Altar Hymnal, No. 7):

6. There shall we see Him, His Eternal Father's
Everlasting Brightness now veiled under flesh;
God shall we find there, a Babe in infant clothing;

The following wonderful translation of the 6th verse is provided by Owen West (link opens in a new window at his site), and is reproduced here with his kind permission:

6. Everlasting splendor of the [Eternal] Father
We shall see in a garment of flesh;
God, infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Chorus

A good friend to this site, Paul Hodges, provided this translation which he believes was from a companion to one of the major English or Scottish hymn books.

6. Father eternal, Thine eternal splendour
Now veiled in flesh our eyes shall see:
God as an infant, swaddling clothes about him.

Another versified translation of the 6th verse has been created by Michael W. Martin. The verse is under copyright; I have requested permission to reprint but have received no word from Mr. Martin. Until then, you can see this verse at Mr. Martin's Adeste Fideles page.

Ian Bradley in The Penguin Book of Carols also provides a literal translation. It is not reproduced here, as it is under copyright.

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).

7. Child, for us sinners Poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;5
Who would not love Thee, Loving us so dearly? Chorus

8. Lo! Star-led chieftains, Magi, Christ adoring,
Offer Him frankincense and gold and myrrh;
We to the Christ-child, Bring our hearts oblations: Chorus

Another source has a different second line:
Offer Him incense, gold and myrrh;

Verse 4 appropriate for Christmas; verse 8 appropriate for Epiphany.

Alternate First Verses:

1. O come, all ye faithful, joyfully triumphant,6
Come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, Monarch of the Angels; 

1. O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem,
Come and behold Him, Monarch of Angels!

1. O hie, ye believers! raise the song of triumph!
O speed ye, O speed ye! to Bethlehem hie!
Born there, behold the Infant King of Angels!
O come and let us worship
O come and let us worship
O come and let us worship the Lord our God!
(Rev. Francis Trappes, Richardson, 1868)

Alternate Second Verses:

2. True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, he shuns not the Virgin's womb;
Son of the Father, Begotten, not created; Chorus

2. God from God, Light of Light begotten
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin's womb;
Only begotten Son of the Father. Chorus

2. Sing, Alleluia, all ye choirs of angels;
O sing, All ye blissful ones of heaven above;
Glory to God in the highest, glory! Chorus

2. The Brightness of glory, Light of light eternal,
Our lowly nature He hath not abhorred;
Son of the Father, Word of God Incarnate! Chorus

2. The highest, most holy, Light of light eternal,
Born of a virgin, a mortal he comes;
Son of the Father, Now is flesh appearing! Chorus

Alternate Third Verses:

3. Sing, choirs of angels, sing with exultation;
O sing, all ye bright hosts of heaven above
Glory to God, all glory in the highest; Chorus

3. Sing, alleluia, All ye choirs of angels;
O sing, all ye blissful ones of heav'n above.
Glory to God - In the highest glory! Chorus

3. O sing choirs of angels, Sing in exultation!
Through heaven's high arches be your praises poured!
Now to our God be Glory in the highest. Chorus

Alternate Fourth Verses:

4. Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born for our salvation;
O Jesus to Thee be all glory given
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. Chorus

4. Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be the glory giv'n.
Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing, Chorus

4. Amen, Lord, we bless Thee, Born for our salvation,
O Jesus, forever be Thy Name adored;
Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing! Chorus

1. Or: 'Very God, begotten, not created;' Return

2. Or: 'Jesus' Return

3. Or: 'draw nigh with lowly fear;' Return

4. Or: 'Bend our joyful footsteps;' Return

5. Or: 'Fain we embrace thee, with awe and love;' Return

6. 'Joyfully triumphant' was Oakeley's first translation.  His second translation was: 'Rejoicing, triumphant' Return

Sheet Music from Percy Dearmer, et. al., eds., The English Hymnal, London: Oxford University Press, 1906. #28, pp. 49-50.

The English Hymnal, #614, pp. 792-3.

Sheet Music from Percy Dearmer, et. al., eds., Songs of Praise (London: Oxford University Press, 1931), #78.

Sheet Music from J. P. McCaskey, ed., Franklin Square Song Collection, No. 1. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1881, p. 27.

McCaskey gives the title "Come, All Ye Faithful."

Sheet Music "Adeste Fideles" from Mary Palmer and John Farmer, eds., Church Sunday School Hymn-Book (London: Church of England Sunday-School Institute, 1892), #43.

Sheet Music from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), #738

Adeste_Fideles_738.gif (251496 bytes)

Sheet Music from O. Hardwig, ed., The Wartburg Hymnal (Chicago: Wartburg Publishing House, 1918), #105

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)

From the collection "Buds and Blossoms - 30 Sacred Melodies"
Source: Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets.
(American Memory, Performing Arts-Music)

MP3 from E. Berliner's Gramophone, September 29, 1899

Adeste Fideles - Chimes - 1899

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

Sheet Music "Adeste Fideles" from Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, eds., Hymns of the Kingdom of God. New York: The A. S. Barnes Company, 1910, #41, p. 77.

See A Garritan Community Christmas for MP3s:
O Come All Ye Faithful, Toby Bresnahan
O Come All Ye Faithful, Stefan Kristinsson

Note:

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.

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.

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Adeste_Fideles

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