I love this carol.
I love the joyfulness, the majesty, the beauty. I love the lyrics by John Francis Wade, an 18th century English Catholic – even the unfamiliar one about the shepherds. I love the tune, also by Wade (or at least transcribed by him). This might be the perfect carol of Christmas Day.
I especially love that not only does our version include the beautiful Latin first verse, it opts to use the Latin in the chorus – because somehow we have an easier time singing “adore him, the Master” (or the more familiar but not quite accurate translation, “adore him, Christ the Lord”) when we are singing it in another language.
But even that fact doesn’t bring me down today – I just love love love this carol.
Adeste, fideles, laeti triumphantes;
venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte Regem angelorum.
venite, adoremus Dominum.
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold him, born the King of angels;
Lo, humble shepherds, hasting to his cradle,
leaving their flocks in the fields, draw near.
We, too, with gladness, thither bend our footsteps;
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;
Now I should mention that this carol Does. Not. Rhyme. Not in the Latin, not in the English. And I know I’ve banged on in other posts about awkward rhyme schemes that don’t scan. So why doesn’t this bother me?
Because it’s the perfect Christmas Day carol, that’s why.
Or maybe it’s just that the way it’s crafted, it feels like it rhymes, or has some sense of completeness. I’m not sure, but really, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
Because maybe I’m not so far off thinking it’s the perfect Christmas Day carol.
Another photo, “Hallock Bay”, by my friend Jeremy Garretson – please buy his art!
Yes, the perfect carol. We used to begin our Christmas Eves service standing in the doorway of the sanctuary (which faces the congregation) while I sang the first verse solo in Latin, a capella. (Or occasionally our music director sang it.) Then when the congregation started singing the English verses, we processed in and the service began. Oh my, what memories these posts are stirring up!