Over the next five Sundays (the four of Advent and Christmas day), I’ll be posting on some of my favourite hymns of the season. Today, the first Sunday of Advent, we start with Come, thou long expected Jesus. Here are two versions of it:
Why did I choose it? For one, it was written by Charles Wesley. Secondly, it expresses Scripture without exactly quoting from it.
Here’s the text of the hymn (source)
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 ev’ry nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us for ever,
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.
The first line invites us to view the coming of Christ from an Old Testament believer’s point of view. A connection could be made to Simeon, who in Luke 2:25 was waiting for the consolation (or deliverance or restoration) of Israel (Isaiah 40:1, 49:13, 57:18, 61:2). As the stanza goes on, it is clear that Jesus is not only Messiah of Israel, but also the hope of all the world (Isaiah 49:6, 1 John 2:2).
The second stanza takes on a more New Testament stance. I see allusions to Matthew 1:21, 2:2, 6:10, Colossians 3:1 and Revelation 3:21. Overall, the hymn excels at portraying the double nature of Advent—celebrating Christ’s first coming to earth as we eagerly expect His second coming.