Thursday, December 11, 2008

Adeste fideles

Adeste fideles, laeti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte regem angelorum
Venite adoremus, venite adoremus,
venite adoremus Dominum

As a child of five or six, I was taught the Latin first verse of "O Come All Ye Faithful". I was too young to be required to take Latin in school, and Vatican II was eliminating the Latin Mass, but Adeste fideles was alive and well at Christmas. Being a small rural family, mostly isolated from grandparents, aunts and uncles, our holiday traditions were few, but important. A real tree decorated with ancient and home made ornaments, topped with a spire, draped in tinsel with a creche beneath. Mom's perfect spritz cookies. Dad's Polish Christmas carols on clay 78's. And Adeste fideles. When I learned that song, my father was so proud. It meant so much to him that I could share something from his childhood, and from my mother's as well. They both grew up with the high Latin Christmas Mass, the liturgy all chanted in Latin. There was incense, it was foreign, it was mysterious and holy. For them, that felt like Christmas. Adeste fideles brought back those memories and made Christmas feel like home. Today when I sing those mysterious words, they never fail to bring a tear to my eye. Tears for innocence lost, tears for my father, tears for Christmas past. But also tears of joy, for the love of Christmas.

No comments: