This is the first post in the blog series Let’s Sing. To find the other posted Carols of the season, see the index, https://revbroyles.me/2020/12/06/lets-sing/
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart. Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne. By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Advent, a season of waiting. It isn’t a long season, as seasons go, but it is the season we wait for the birth of the Christ child, anew in our hearts. It is a season of about four weeks in length. The actual length depends on the day of the week we celebrate Christmas Day. This year it happens to be a Friday. There are always four Sundays during Advent but this year there are only three Fridays and three Saturdays.
For children, the season seems to drag on forever as they await two things. First, is the two week break they get from school. Second, and far more important for most kids, when school ends Christmas is almost here. And, Christmas means presents.
Once one is an adult the time isn’t so slow. In fact, time seems to run even faster. There is more to do than it seems we have time to accomplish.
And still, we wait.
Our waiting is nothing compared to the waiting of the Jews, back in the days of the author of this hymn, “Charles Wesley.” For Jews, the wait has been even longer than centuries. They have waited for the Messiah’s arrival for more than 4000 years. And, still they wait.
They wait in vane. They wait in vane because of our reason for celebrating when this season of waiting called Advent comes to an end.
For many of us, singing this hymn and a few others marks the beginning of the wait we call Advent. Even if we pay little attention to the calendar, if we attend worship, the shift in the music to songs like this one, “O Come, O Come Emanuel” and “Lift Up Your Head, Ye Mighty Gates,” signals the beginning of the annual, spiritual pilgrimage back to a stable and a manger.
Written around 1744, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” is just one the approximately 8000 hymns written by Charles Wesley. This hymn proved to be so popular that it was reprinted 20 times during before he passed away in 1788.
When Wesley wrote this hymn he found himself surrounded by poverty, particularly the squalor of orphaned British children. Wesley’s time was a time much like ours today. It was a time of weakness in the Church and the power of sin in the world. It was a time where the divisions between the upper class and everyone else was growing quickly. This was most greatly seen in the homeless orphans of 18th century England. They were all but ignored by the world. The hymn is Wesley’s petition for the return of Jesus.
The themes of setting people free from the sin that is present in all our lives. Come and release us, Wesley writes. Bring our rest, return our strength and consolation. Give us hope and joy. Come long expected Lord Jesus, come and deliver us.
The second verse demonstrates that the hymn is as much for us today as it was when Wesley originally wrote it. “Born to reign in us, brought to the royal thrown. By the power of the Holy Spirit, alone God rule in us and bring us to you, not for what we have done but through your grace.
Seeking the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved