I recently saw an interesting BBC show called “The Truth about Christmas Carols”. You might wonder why I’m including it in my Hebrew blog, and that’s a fair question. I love ancient languages besides Hebrew, including Greek, Latin, Sumerian, etc… and the show also teaches a lot about British history.
Apparently, even when certain Christmas songs were banned in England, the Catholoic “rebels” were immune from prosecution in the embassy chapels, for example, the Portuguese embassy maintained it’s own Catholic chapel that was under international law, rather than British rule. John Francis Wade, a Jacobite (one in favor of restoring the Stewart monarchy, and thus catholicism) created a hymn book and usually recognized as the author of “Adeste Fidelis” (O Come All Ye Faithful).
Some would claim that “Adeste Fidelis” contains a hidden Jacobite message, that “the faithful” represents the Jacobites, Bethlehem represents London, and that “Regis Angelorum” (“King of Angels”) is a pun for “Regis Anglia” (“King of England”) – the latin for Angels and England is very similar.
At the bottom of the title page, there is an interesting Latin puzzle, you have to read it by zig-zagging up and down from the first line to the second to get the first phrase, and from the third line to the second to get the second phrase.
It comes out like this: “Quos anguis tristi dirocum vulnere stravit. Hos Sanguis Christi miro tum munere lavit.”, translated “Those who suffer with a sad dread wound are with the blood of Christ washed afterword.” Apparently, Christ represents “Bonnie Prince Charlie“, the Stewart prince they wanted on the throne of England.
Anyway, if it’s on TV next holiday season, try to catch the show:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00gbgt3 You can also hear some of the Christmas carols that are sung in pubs that didn’t quite make it into church and how “Shepherds breeding their sheep by night” got cleaned up a little by the Puritans.