Sunday, 24 December 2006

Adeste Fideles

Here's the third in the Roman Miscellany carol series. Adeste Fideles was not written by St Bonaventure, as some people think, but by an eighteenth century English recusant, John Francis Wade. He spent most of his life in exile overseas because of his Jacobite sympathies and was strongly associated with the English College, Douai. The tune was probably based on the Air Anglois in Favart's comic opera Acajou.

The popular carol was first used by the English Catholic Community and it gained the name the 'Portuguese Hymn' simply because it could be heard at the Portuguese Embassy Chapel in London (the extra-territorial embassy chapels were open centres of Catholicism in Protestant London during 'penal times', often with impressive musical and liturgical resources).

In 1841, nearly a century after its composition, the carol was translated by Frederick Oakeley. He became a Catholic in 1845 and, after Ordination, founded the Mission of St John's, Islington - just down the road from my current parish.

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Blogger Monica said...

Thanks for the video, Father.

I wonder how many parishes will sing this in the original language as we shall in our local parish at midnight Mass (the 4 standard verses plus the verse on this video). It is always well sung.

When people ask why we sing it in latin, it's interesting to remind them that the latin is good latin and makes sense: the english version isn't and doesn't.

We taught it to our primary school children a few years ago and explained the meaning of the words. They kept on asking for it in latin. When children are challenged, they invariably rise to the challenge.

Have a happy an holy Christmas.

10:48 pm  
Blogger Mark Langham said...

Dear Nicholas
Thanks for these fascinating insights on carols. I wonder if you can help with a question I've had for some time - I was once told that the song of the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' is based on Latin texts, as heard by a non-literate congregation. Thus, 'A Patridge in a Pear Tree' was originally 'Apparuit in Partibus'. I have found no corroboration of this or, indeed, any hint at what the other 'days' might represent. Any clues? (But please don't worry about it until after Christmas!) With very best wishes for the Holy Season

6:25 am  

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