COME, THOU LONG-EXPECTED JESUS written in 1744
Charles Wesley (1707-1788) was a prolific hymnwriter who wrote at least 18 Christmas hymns, but he was never content with simply painting the picture of the manger scene. He needed to go deeper. In this hymn, he begins to allude to scriptural prophecies of Christ. Moving on to personal application, he continues: Christ is not only the “desire of every nation”; He is the “joy of every longing heart”. He is not only the Child born with the “government… on His shoulders” (Is. 9:6); He is also “born to reign in us forever”.
Such personal application was a hallmark of the Wesleys’ ministry. Charles and his brother, John, challenged the staid Anglican traditions of their time. The church of their day had great scholarship; its theology was orthodox. Christians sang hymns straight from Scripture. But the Wesleys asked, “Does this mean anything to you? Is the Biblical story about long-ago events or about what is going on in your life?” The urged people to meet Christ personally and to include Him in every part of their lives – even their hymn singing.
This hymn text has been put with different tunes… two of which are sung more often than the others, and those two are sung about equally. So, the way you sing this Christmas Carol may be different from the way the person next to you might sing it (but hopefully not in the same congregation at the same time…).
Read this Christmas hymn, and – today – imagine the excitement of receiving something you’ve waited for a long time.
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set Your people free;
from our fears and sins release us
by your death on Calvary.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope to all the earth impart,
dear desire of ev’ry nation,
joy of ev’ry longing heart.
Born Your people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King;
born to reign in us forever,
now Your gracious kingdom bring.
By Your own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by Your all-sufficient merit
raise us to Your glorious throne.