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Appreciating Our Lutheran Hymns

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful

A Christmas Hymn

#102 in The Lutheran Hymnal

As familiar and well-loved as this hymn has become, there is surprisingly little known of its origin.

The Latin poem “Adeste, Fideles” and its melody first appeared on the scene through the hands of John Francis Wade, an exiled Englishman who spent many years in the Catholic community of Douay, France in the mid 1700s. He and another British music copyist, Samuel Webbe, individually published the Latin hymn, and thus it was introduced in both England and France.

Since it was first translated into English by men like Edward Caswall and Frederick Oakely in the mid 1800s, this hymn has made its way into at least 125 languages. This, in turn, has earned for it the well-deserved title as the most popular of all Christmas hymns.

The message is a welcome one. In a world where our culture beckons us to ‘come and be bedazzled by all the glitz and glamor that the secular celebration of Christmas has become,’ this hymn invites us to direct our attention where it really belongs: “Come, see in the manger our Savior and King!”

It is in that manger we find the true meaning of the season, in the “True Son of the Father,” who “doth not despise . . . to be born of a virgin.” True God become true Man–for us! Our Lord Himself come to earth to “save His people from their sins!”

That is what Christmas is all about–and that is why we joyfully join with all the faithful to sing: “Oh, come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

–Pastor Paul Krause