O Come All Ye Faithful
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;
O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Some of my fondest memories of First Baptist Greensboro are of our Christmas Eve worship services. The first time I ever set foot into FBC’s sanctuary was the evening of December 24, 1993, with my then girlfriend Shelly Rudd and her family. Fast forward 25 years later, and I still get goosebumps when the sanctuary illuminates as the congregation raises their candles during the final stanza of “Joy to the World”.
The opening hymn each of those 25 years, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, has equal, if not greater significance to me. In Luke 2:15-17, the shepherds, upon hearing of the birth of a Savior, Christ the Lord, felt a sense of urgency to visit Him:
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about”. So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what has been told them about this child”.
It was this scripture that in 1760 inspired Englishman John Francis Wade to write the words and music to a hymn he called Adeste Fideles in Latin, which was translated by Frederick Oakely in 1841 to the hymn we know as “O Come All Ye Faithful”.
“O Come All Ye Faithful” is a hymn that celebrates the remarkable joy and excitement that surrounded the birth of Christ. It is an invitation that allows us to transcend time and distance, to travel to Bethlehem in our hearts, and behold our Savior much like the shepherds and Magi did more than 2000 years ago. “O come let us adore Him”!
In stanza 2 we are reminded that song is one of the most glorious forms of worship. Whether we are singing with the congregation at FBC Greensboro on Christmas Eve, or with a choir of angels in Bethlehem, we are giving God the glory for the birth and worship of His son Jesus Christ. Let us “Sing in exultation” each and every hymn we sing.
In the final stanza of the original version of the hymn, “Word of the Father / Now in flesh appearing” speaks to our heart that we are now all able to join in with this celebration. Prior to his birth as the baby Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word, existed in perfect harmony with God only for all previous eternity. But the infinite possibilities of God entering human flesh has made it all possible.
In Jesus, we can join alongside the history of God’s people and their worship of Christ, and each Christmas as we specifically focus on Jesus’ birth, we too can say, “Oh come let us adore him / He is Christ the Lord.”
— Dave Worsley