At our Christmas Day service we enjoyed singing a variety of carols (old and new) and looked at the carol ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’. One of the oldest carols (probably written in Latin in the 12th century), this is always sung as the penultimate carol in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge and as the final anthem during Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
The key words in the carol are ‘come’ and ‘adore.’ It starts ‘O come, all ye faithful’ and the phrase ‘o come’ is repeated three times in each chorus. ‘Let us adore him’ is repeated three times in the chorus. Repetition deepens impression and helps us to see the importance of these two themes. The Bible calls us to worship on many occasions (see Ps 100:2, 4; Ps 95:1, 2, 6) and reminds us to sing on many occasions.
The carol is centred on the person of Jesus Christ, reminding us of both His humanity (‘Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing’) and His deity (‘God of God, Light of light.’) This mystery, that Jesus is both God and man, is at the heart of Christmas. Jesus is ‘very God’, but He is also ‘begotten, not created’, He does not despise our humanity but embraces it (‘lo, He abhors not the virgin’s womb’). It calls the faithful to worship and reminds us of the reasons we have to be joyful and triumphant! ‘O come, let us adore Him!’ is at the heart of our Christmas worship.