12 Days of Christmas Carols- O Come, All Ye Faithful

Dieric_Bouts_004 “O Come, All Ye Faithful” was also originally a Roman Catholic hymn, and it has a bit of a bumpy history.  Originally written in Latin, but by an Englishman, in 1743, a time when all but the Roman Catholics would have been writing in English, folks were not exactly sure who the author was.  At that time it was considered proper to leave liturgical pieces anonymous, since the song wasn’t really meant to be “his” but rather the church’s.  Also, since it was in Latin, there was no reason to suspect that it was an Englishman who wrote it.  The French began to claim that it was theirs.  Some Irish said that they heard it first.  Even in England, the tune picked up the name “The Portuguese Hymn” because it was played in the Portuguese chapel in England.  This lead people to think that maybe it had been written by someone from Portugal, perhaps even the king!  You can read all about the history here, but what seems to be proven (though wikipedia says that “it has been concluded that… probably…”, so take this “probable conclusion” how you will) is that it was written by the English Roman Catholic, John Francis Wade.  Wade had spent some time in exile in France, and so the French may well have heard the tune there.  He was also in Ireland for a while, so there’s the Irish’s claim.  Wade wrote the tune in Latin, and so it was called Adeste Fideles, in 1743.  In fact, the song is known by its Latin title in most all official discussions, particularly because this allows it to be shared in the multiple countries that all sing it. Continue reading