Music

John Francis Wade

Born 1711. Died 16 August 1786.

Biography

John Francis Wade (1711 – 16 August 1786) was an English hymnist who is sometimes credited with writing and composing the hymn "Adeste Fideles" (which was later translated to "O Come All Ye Faithful") even though the actual authorship of the hymn remains uncertain. The earliest copies of the hymn all bear his signature.

Born either in England or in Douai in Flanders, France, Wade fled to France after the Jacobite rising of 1745 was crushed. As a Catholic layman, he lived with exiled English Catholics in France. There, he taught music and worked on church music for private use.

Professor Bennett Zon, Head of the Department of Music at Durham University, has noted that Wade's Roman Catholic liturgical books were often decorated with Jacobite floral imagery, and argued that the texts had coded Jacobite meanings. Zon describes the hymn "Adeste Fideles" as a birth ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie replete with secret references decipherable by the "faithful": the followers of the Pretender, James Francis Edward Stuart.

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