Adeste fideles / O Come, All Ye Faithful

O Come, All Ye Faithful is one of those Christmas carols that everyone knows. If not the full lyrics, at least the tune will sound very familiar: it’s an almost obligatory hymn in countless churches, regardless of denomination. 

The first four verses of this carol were originally written in Latin, and the additional ones were added in the course of the 18th century, mainly in France. Who exactly wrote it and composed the music is largely unknown, and it remains the subject of much speculation. John Francis Wade, an 18th century English hymnist, first published it in his work Cantus Diversi pro Dominicis et Festis per annum, and the authorship is typically attributed to him.

In a curious plot twist, it’s been suggested that the English version of the hymn is a coded message of political support for the Jacobites and Bonnie Prince Charlie – the Catholic Stuart claimant to the British throne. You can read more about this fascinating theory here.

The English translation of the original four verses commonly used today is the work of the English priest Frederick Oakley, a 19th century Anglican convert to Roman Catholicism. In this blog post, we’ll only look at those four initial verses, starting with the original Latin version. If you happen to be studying Latin, try to work out the meaning of the lyrics before having a look at the English translation. You’ll see, it’s really not that difficult – you won’t need an advanced knowledge of Latin grammar or vocabulary.


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

Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine
Gestant puellæ viscera
Deum verum, genitum non factum.
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus
Dominum.

Cantet nunc io, chorus angelorum;
Cantet nunc aula cælestium,
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo,
Venite adoremus 
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus
Dominum.

Ergo qui natus die hodierna.
Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Patris æterni Verbum caro factum.
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus
Dominum.

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.

God of God, light of light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin's womb;
Very God, begotten, not created:
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of Heaven above!
Glory to God, glory in the highest:
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be 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.

I usually include vocabulary exercises in posts like these, but this time I’ll give you a break. For homework, you can visit the following links and listen to these nice renditions of this popular Christmas carol:

Adeste Fideles performed by L’Accroche-Choeur, Fribourg

O Come, All Ye Faithful performed by BYU Combined Choirs and Orchestra (arr. Dan Forrest)

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