“When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question: ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” (Mt 11:2-3)
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus
The lyrics of Charles Wesley's hymn evoke the message and ardor of John the Baptist, and perhaps some of the ardor of Charles Wesley himself. Wesley was a man of deep devotion; he and his brother John were ridiculed as students because of their almost monastic dedication to prayer and a disciplined life. That youthful devotion imbues his hymns (some 6,000 of them) with unmistakable warmth, perhaps one reason so many of his works are still widely known three centuries after his birth. (What would Christmas be without Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!?) With his brother John, Charles Wesley is often identified as a founder of the Methodist Church, though he probably saw “methodism” more as a renewal movement than a church, since at the end of his life he considered himself a member of the Church of England “whatever the world may say of me.”
Ecumenical from the start, Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus was written as a hymn for Advent, and was popularized by a Baptist preacher. It incorporates a prayer (“Born Thy people to deliver...”) that was published at the time Wesley set the hymn in writing (1744), taking inspiration from the prophet Haggai (2:7) who wrote of “the desired [One] of the nations” who “will come...to the Temple.”
How has this Advent helped you to more intensely desire Jesus' coming?
Sister Anne Flanagan is a singer with the Daughters of St Paul Choir.
Here is a contemporary arrangement of the hymn sung by Fernando Ortega to the tune Hyfrodol. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dmO8UPlWoo
COME, THOU LONG EXPECTED JESUS by Charles Wesley, 1744 (Public Domain)
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.