Hymn #135: Adeste Fideles (O Come, All You Faithful)

           John Francis Wade (1711-1786) is believed to be the writer of this Latin text.  Six manuscripts of the hymn exist, all in Wade’s handwriting – the earliest and most likely original dating from 1743.  The English version is based on a translation by Frederick Oakeley beginning “Ye faithful, approach ye.”

            John F. Wade was an Englishman who worked in Douay, France, a center for Catholic refugees from England following the abdication of King James II.  Hymns that he wrote and transcribed from Latin were published in 1751.

            ADESTE FIDELES is a Roman Catholic tune that has found wide acceptance in Protestant churches.  When the tune was first printed in 1782, no composer’s name was indicated.  It has served as a setting for many other hymns since the nineteenth century.

            This Roman Catholic tune is now found in practically every Christian hymnal in the world.  John F. Wade is credited as the composer, but it is not known if the melody is original or copied from an earlier source.  Wade was born in England but fled to France during the Jacobean rebellion in 1745.