The origins of both the music and words to O come, all ye faithful
, the triumphal hymn of praise for Christmas Day, are obscure and may be traced to English Catholic circles of the mid-eighteenth century. They appear in manuscripts copied by John Francis Wade, a lay teacher and musician at Douai Abbey. The tune written down by Wade was first published under the title ‘Adeste fideles’ in An Essay on the Church Plain Chant
edited by Samuel Webbe the elder in 1782. Additional verses were added later and Frederick Oakley translated the original Latin from Wade’s manuscript. Modern versions are based on W H Monk’s harmonization for the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern
(1861), and in this performance the descant of the penultimate verse is by David Hill.
from notes by Andrew Burn © 2006