Sunday, December 2, 2012

Songs of the Season: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Today was the first Sunday of Advent, and in homes and churches around the world, the first candle of the Advent wreath was lit as a way to mark our journey to Christmas. This is a season of waiting and preparation, as we live expectantly into the hope of Jesus' coming.

"Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" is an Advent hymn written by Charles Wesley. Charles Wesley (1708-1788) was a hymn writer of epic proportions. Charles was the brother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. In many ways, the spread of Methodism can be credited in part to Charles, whose lyrics imparted Methodist understandings of God's love and grace and the way of salvation.

"Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" was written in 1744 and included in a tract of his hymns called Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord.

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.

I find this a very comforting hymn. In Christ lies our liberation. Yet, the one who liberates is not a mighty warrior-king but a child who dwells in our hearts, offering our souls a blessed rest.

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