Posted by: rcottrill | May 14, 2012

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Words: John Francis Wade (b. _____, 1710; d. Aug. 16, 1786)
Music: Adeste Fideles, likely by John Francis Wade

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Scholar John Stephan, in his extensive study of early manuscripts, has concluded that one from 1743 is the first and original of this hymn, and that Wade wrote both words and music, sometime between 1740 and 1743. In 1841, Frederick Oakeley (1802-1880) gave us the English translation of the commonly used stanzas (CH-1, 3 and 7). As well as being a popular Christmas carol sung in English, the hymn is still sung in the Latin original as well. It begins:

Adeste fideles laeti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte Regem angelorum.
Venite adoremus, venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus Dominum.

This is a song of invitation. Like church bells chiming on a Sunday morning, the carol issues a call to worship.

CH-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;

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

The Word of God contains many such summonses. The first is found in Genesis 7:1, where the Lord calls Noah and his family to find safety in the ark. “The LORD said to Noah, ‘Come into the ark, you and all your household.’” The NIV opts to translate the word as “go.” This is unfortunate. It is a common Hebrew word for come, translated that way hundreds of times in the Old Testament. The significance of “come” is that God is already present in the ark, and is calling them to Himself. It is a reminder that He will be with them in the storm.

Other invitations are issued by the Lord, in both Old and New Testaments.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price….Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (Isa. 55:1, 3).

“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).

With the carol, there is a sense that we are invited to join a time of celebration and praise that has already begun. In the context of the birth of Christ, this of course has to do with echoing the glorious announcement of the angels to the shepherds (Lk. 2:8-14). The song deals with this angelic praise in CH-3, and follows it in CH-4 (a stanza not usually used today) with the shepherds going to “see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us” (vs. 15).

CH-3) Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest.
O come, let us adore Him.

CH-4) 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 adore Him.

In singing the hymn, believers are positioning themselves as those who are already worshiping the Lord, and are calling for others to join them. It suggests we have found Him infinitely worthy of our adoration, and want others to discover the same. “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation” (Ps. 95:1).

CH-7) Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

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

1) What are some of the reasons why we seek the Lord and come to Him?

2) The invitation at the empty tomb to “Come and see” (Matt. 28:6) is followed by the exhortation to “Go and tell” (vs. 7). What is the application of this to our Christian lives?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

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