O Come All Ye Faithful (Advent 21-2014)

Everything sounds more theological in Latin.  Today’s Carol Me, Christmas (2014 Advent Devotional Series) hymn, O Come All Ye Faithful (also known as Adeste Fideles), is no exception.  I remember singing it in our high school choir…in Latin.  I especially liked singing Venite adoremus Dominum.

O Come All Ye Faithful is attributed to John F. Wade with the English translation by Frederick Oakeley and William T. Brooke among others.  The scene depicted in this carol is that of the angels having announced the birth of the Christ to the shepherds,

Luke 2:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Some authors report that this was not designed as a pilgrimage to Bethlehem, but rather a carefully decipherable call to revolt by Wade, a Catholic exiled in France, to fellow faithful Jacobeans in exile to rise up against the English throne which was oppressing Catholics of the day.  Personally, I find this fairly incongruous with the plain words of the song.  Some people just can’t stand to let Jesus be worshiped without politicizing the whole thing.

The tune itself is regal and almost like a march, suitable for a pilgrimage.  It has been attributed to John Wade, or John Reading, as well as to Simao Portogallo which gives rise to another name for this hymn as being The Portuguese Hymn.

All of this said, the lyrics fit with the biblical story, but not for today.  Theologically speaking, Christianity is one religion in which pilgrimages no longer happen.  God would want it that way.  In the flow of Scripture, we don’t have Noah’s ark, the original copies of the Ten Commandments, the budded staff of Aaron, the golden jar of manna, or the Ark of the Covenant.  We don’t have Moses’ basket or the bronze snake.  We don’t have the stones lifted out of the River Jordan as a memorial.  We don’t have a Ripley’s Wax Museum marking the exact spot where the Christ Child was laid in the manger, which is a good thing because that’s kind of creepy.

Why wouldn’t God want us going to Bethlehem in a pilgrimage?

Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us.  Christianity is the only religion in which God reached down for us and came to us, Himself, to save us.  That’s what Christ, Messiah, means.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

As you ponder our Thought Focus for Today and listen to the Christmas Eve Service of Eucharist at Westminster Abbey, remind yourself about how wonderful it is that God accomplished for us what no human pilgrimage ever could.

Thought Focus for Today:  We don’t need to go on pilgrimages in a physical sense to worship God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How can Christians go on a spiritual pilgrimage without ever leaving home?

o come all ye faithfulO come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;


O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;


Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;


See how the shepherds, summoned to His cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
We too will thither bend our joyful footsteps;


Lo! star led chieftains, Magi, Christ adoring,
Offer Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
We to the Christ Child bring our hearts’ oblations.


Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?


Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.



Carol Me, Christmas (2014 Advent Devotional Series) began November 30th.  By way of reminder, if you haven’t signed up yet, you can receive these devotional studies in your email throughout Advent 2014 by entering your email address on the SeminaryGal.com home page in the space provided in the sidebar.  Or “Like” the SeminaryGal Facebook page to access them there.  If you like these devotionals, I’d really appreciate your letting others know so I can continue to spread the Good News far and wide.  Blessings to you, in Christ always, Barbara <><

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on December 20, 2014

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