“Adeste Fideles” or “O Come All Ye Faithful” is a Christmas carol commonly attributed to John Francis Wade in approximately 1743. Wade was a Catholic layman, a music teacher, who fled the Jacobite rebellion in 1745. He went to the English College, Douai which was a refuge for English Catholics after the abdication of James II in 1688. The words may therefore be attributed to Wade or to others, but certainly originate amongst exiled Jacobite Roman Catholics of the 1740s.
The earliest existing manuscript shows both words and tune. It was published in the 1760 edition of Evening Offices of the Church. John Francis Wade included it in his own publication of Cantus Diversi (1751). It also appeared in Samuel Webbe’s An Essay on the Church Plain Chant (1782).
The title “Adeste Fideles” is usually reserved for the Latin original, and “O Come All Ye Faithful” for the English translation.
It is sometimes referred to as the “Portuguese Hymn” as it was often sung in the Portuguese Embassy in London where Vincent Novello was organist, and who erroneously ascribed the tune to John Redding. It has also on occasions been erroneously attributed to the 13th century saint, Saint Bonaventure.
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