In the 1700’s, England had a set of 13 colonies in a “New Land” but they did not have room for the Catholic Church in their country.  This led to many English people who were practicing Catholics, fleeing the country to pursue their religious liberty elsewhere.  As time wore on, however, many within England became sympathetic to the cause of the Catholic Church, and word was beginning to spread throughout Europe calling all English Catholics home.  Part of the marketing campaign to attract English Catholics to return to their home country included the writing of several masses that encouraged their return.  Included in one of these masses was a hymn (written in Latin) by John Francis Wade, “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  In the margins of the mass script, beside the song lyrics, in Wade’s own handwriting, was a plea for the faithful Catholics of English descent to return to their mother land.  Therefore, the song was originally written to inspire English Catholics gathering together around Christ in England by drawing from imagery of the gathering of the faithful around the manger in Bethlehem.

After many Catholics returned to England (and brought this mass with them), the popularity of this hymn began to grow outside the circles of the Catholic Church.  In 1841 the Duke of Leeds had the song translated into English and included in a choral arrangement he was preparing for the Church of England. That translation is the song we still sing today.

Though we are not English Catholics of the 18th century, this song still holds great truth for us.  In fact, understanding the historical context of the song should encourage believers today.  Increasingly, I have heard people crying out in distress over the wandering of our country away from Biblical values.  As we sing this song this season may we all be reminded that the faithful can come to Christ any place, any time, regardless of the political setting.  O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

“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 exaltation

O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above

Glory to God, all 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!

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!  O Come Let us Adore Him!  O Come Let us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Lo! star led chieftains, Magi, Christ adoring,

Offer Him incense, gold, and myrrh;

We to the Christ Child bring our hearts’ oblations.

O Come Let us Adore Him!  O Come Let us Adore Him!  O Come Let us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,

We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;

Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?

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 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!”

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