The song’s official title is Adeste Fideles and despite the common belief that the lyrics were written by St. Bonaventure, the song was penned by English Catholic priest John Francis Wade. Wade, 35, had fled to France in 1745, where he spent his time translating and preserving old church music. Inspired by the ancient music he was studying, Wade wrote Adeste Fideles which was first published in France.
Collins speculates that because of Wade’s status as a leader of the English Catholic revolution at the time and his refusal to take an oath of allegiance to the Church of England, his name was deleted when Frederick Oakeley translated the original lyrics into English in 1841. Soon after St. Bonaventure was given credit for the song’s words.
O Come, All Ye Faithful didn’t become a hit until 1905 when it was recorded by the Peerless Quartet, described by Collins as “the Beatles of their time.”
from Ace Collins’ new book Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas.The book, published by Zondervan