Charles Wesley was an extraordinary poet and hymn-writer, penning (according to some estimates) over 6,500 poems! The majority of these were set to music, and intended for worship. This week’s focus is his Advent hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” In “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” we saw the hymn writer’s poetic connection between the theological longings for the incarnation and the second coming. Wesley’s hymn echoes these Advent themes, reminding us of the promises that were given to Israel, the freedom we have in Christ, the miracle of the infant-God, the wonder of Trinitarian life, and hope of eternity! The words hold together our deep longing and our joyful expectation.
Since its first publication in the 1790’s, this hymn has appeared in over 600 hymnals, and is currently found in over 70 hymnbooks, in a wide variety of denominations, reflecting Wesley’s wisdom: writing that is rooted in scripture can easily be embraced across the ecumenical spectrum. Two musical settings are predominant for this text, but there are a wide variety of tunes that fit the standard 8787 metre of the poetry. Stuttgart is the older, original tune, but it has been slightly overshadowed by Hyfrydol in modern North American publications. This week’s playlist leans toward Hyfrydol, with a choral setting of the John Stainer (1840-1901) tune (which is popular in the UK), and a lovely arrangement of the Stuttgart tune on pipe organ, to close out the selections.
With John, the writer of Revelation, and Charles Wesley, the writer of this wonderful hymn, we say together, “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!”
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.