December 26, 2022

Christmas and Advent Hymns and their Story
“O Come, All Ye Faithful”

It is difficult to imagine a hymn that is so universally loved, having a more varied development both in its text and tune. The hymn, most likely, was the work of Englishman John Francis Wade [1711-1786]. Most historians place Wade in London and that many of his manuscripts traveled the world through foreign dignitaries taking this beloved hymn back to their own country.
The Latin title, “Adests Fideles”, was also a “call to arms” for the Jacobite cause in England. It could also be used as a call to return to Bethlehem to “behold Him who was born King of Angels, or England.” Historians can argue all they want – it is still a call for Christians worldwide to return again and worship the Newborn King.
This is still, a joyous setting of the nativity of our Lord from Luke chapter 2 [as the author recorded in a letter found years after his death]. It certainly is about Jesus, not the King of England, because after all, in verse 2, the reference is taken from the Nicene Creed, where Jesus is confessed as “ God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made”: reflecting the High Christ-teaching of John chapter 1.
Truly, this hymn of praise from human lips rises above that of the angels’ song; for in Jesus, God has shared our human flesh, and by this same Jesus, we human beings have shared the treasures of God. We will not ever ask you to join us in praising an earthly king; but rather, to join us to “Come All ye Faithful” and worship the Newborn King with us.

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!

LSB 379

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