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Adeste Fideles


Hymn used during the Christmas season, found neither in the Breviary nor in the Missal. Its origin is variously accounted for, although it is generally thought that both hymn and music were composed together in the early 18th century. Many scholars today think that it was written by John Francis Wade (171186), who was a teacher of Latin and church song at Douai, France, between 1740 and 1743. J. Stéphan in 1947 bolstered a plausible theory of Wade's authorship of an earlier version of the hymn and chorus, Venite, adorate, and the later more liturgical Venite, adoremus. He maintained that the hymn antedated 1744, when in a disguised form it was used as an "Air anglais" in a Paris vaudeville Acajou. It exists today in three versions, the first, with four strophes beginning with the words (stanza 1) Adeste, (2) Deum de Deo, (7) Cantet, and (8) Ergo qui natus; the second, with additional strophes inserted beginning (3) En grege relicto, (4) Stella duce, (5) Magi aeterni patris, and (6) Pro nobis egenum; a third version used in France has strophes 1, 3, 5 and 6. The hymn urges the faithful to approach the crib of the Word made Flesh, in the company of shepherds, magi, and angels. There are numerous English translations of the hymn.

Bibliography: j. stÉphan, The Adeste Fideles (Buckfastleigh, Eng. 1947). a. molien, Catholicisme 1:140141. p. dearmer, Songs of Praise Discussed (New York 1952). m. britt, ed., The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal (new ed. New York 1948).

[m. m. beyenka]

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