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O Come All Ye Faithful

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the Christmas/Advent season is in full bloom, BaptistMessenger.com is sharing this article series by Keith Getty to help readers learn more about the great carols that are being sung this time of year. From Dec. 2 through Dec. 12, an article will be published each day. The Baptist Messenger hopes this series will enrich the holiday season for you, as you celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

 

I always associate “O Come all ye Faithful” with going carol singing in Ireland at Christmas when I was a child; it makes this carol incredibly special for me, and we always finish our Christmas concerts with it.

The carol, originally known as “Adeste Fidelis,” was most likely written by John Francis Wade, a Catholic artist. It remained a Latin masterpiece for 100 years before being translated into English by Frederick Oakley. For congregational and acappella purposes, this carol sings beautifully.

It’s a simple carol that tells the story of the Christ child and encourages us to join with the Angels in celebrating and declaring the birth of our savior:

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!

It’s an invitation to join in with the praise and worship of heaven—to remember that Jesus gave up his heavenly home to become flesh for us.

It takes us to the fields of Bethlehem, and reminds us that Jesus’ birth was proclaimed “by a great company of the heavenly host…praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests,’” (Luke 2:13-14).

The carol is full of snappy theological phrases like:

Word of the father,
now in flesh appearing

Everybody knows this phrase, it’s such a memorable part of Christmas carol singing tradition. And yet, each Christmas, this phrase can mean something different to me and each person who sings it.

For me, this hymn has one of the best choruses ever written. The invitation to all is to just “come and adore…” The repetition of this one line builds emphasis and a persuasion to forget what is holding us back, to let go of all else that might be occupying our minds, and to just “come,” to take a step towards and to move from one place to another, whether physically or spiritually, where we can simply “adore Christ the Lord.”

O Come All Ye Faithful - Baptist Messenger of OklahomaTo get tickets for Sing! An Irish Christmas tour head over to: https://www.gettymusic.com/christmas

Author: Keith Getty

Keith and Kristyn Getty occupy a unique space in the world of music today as preeminent modern hymn writers. In re-inventing the traditional hymn form, they are creating and cultivating a catalogue of songs teaching Christian doctrine and crossing the genres of traditional, classical, folk and contemporary composition which are sung the world over. In 2017, Keith Getty was made an “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to "music and modern hymn writing," marking the first time the award had been given to an individual involved in the world of contemporary church music.

View more articles by Keith Getty.

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