No one is certain who wrote the original four verses of “Adeste Fideles,” known in English as “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Some have claimed it was Saint Bonaventure, others King John IV of Portugal, and still others an anonymous Cistercian monk during the High Middle Ages. The tune we’re familiar with is credited to John Francis Wade, and may have come to him in some form via the Jacobite Rising of 1745. The most familiar English translation is by an English Catholic priest named Frederick Oakley, and it is this version that will be sung on Christmas Eve in churches both Catholic and Protestant throughout the English-speaking world.
It one of many hymns, carols, and song that have been around for so long that no one knows for sure who wrote it. Many traditions are like that, whether widespread ones or those particular to families. Traditions root us in a rootless era, bringing back childhood memories and connecting us with long-departed predecessors. Celebrate yours this week whatever they may be.
And adore the One who came to make all the old things new.