O Come, All Ye Faithless

December 24, 2002

I was alone in a bar on Christmas Eve.  Freshly graduated from college, returned to my hometown, and in a state of spiritual free-fall as I came to realize that I was no longer a fundamentalist, but did not yet know whether there was another way to practice my faith (as it turns out, there is… thank God).  In that season of darkness and doubt, I could not honestly celebrate Christmas as one of the “faithful, joyful, and triumphant.”  I decided that I needed a Christmas carol for people like me… grubby shepherds, unsanitary stable-dwellers, and all who make their way home “by another way.”

I procured a piece of paper and a pen, then rewrote the old hymn in a more applicable light.  This would be a hymn I could sing with honesty.

I played it for friends over the years, who circulated the lyrics.  Eventually, I found out that a Methodist congregation in Johannesburg, South Africa had made it part of their regular Christmas Eve liturgy.  I offer it now to anyone who does not/cannot feel “faithful, joyful, and triumphant” on this Christmas day: sinners, doubters, drunks, junkies, queers, screw-ups, freaks, geeks, weirdos, skeptics, loonies, rejects, and failures… It is for those like us that Christ is born.

O Come, all ye faithless, beat-up, and defeated,
come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold him, born the friend of sinners:
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

Sing, choirs of vagrants, sing in desperation;
sing, all ye denizens of streets below:
Glory to God!  Glory in the highest!
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

Yea, Lord, we greet thee: born this dreary evening.
Jesus, to thee be all glory given.
Hope for the hopeless, now in flesh appearing.
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

3 thoughts on “O Come, All Ye Faithless

  1. Peter Grassow

    Hey Barrett: I still use this – but have now moved to being a Chaplain of a Methodist Seminary. Many of my seminarians have sung this as part of our preparation for Christmas.
    Every blessing

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