During the Advent season, we focus on our favorite part of the Story of God, the entry into the world of our hero in the flesh, the birth awaited by all throughout the ages until that night in Bethlehem. Though we know the story well, and how it turns out, we revel all over again in the thrill of the longed-for, hoped-for arrival, the part of the story that would change the world in all the ages thereafter. It is a story of beauty, a story of joy, and a story we will never grow tired of repeating.
The coming of Christ is a story worth reading, worth telling, and one that has been put to song again and again. The angels sang His arrival, and we join them especially at this time of year in singing the story that is most glorious. Words come alive especially when we sing them.
The musical Christmas twaddle that bombards us everywhere we go is a cheap substitute for the living songs of the church. Just as we endeavor to nourish our children's souls with beautiful literature, let us celebrate during this Advent the songs that will truly capture our children's imaginations and hearts for the rest of their lives.
One of nineteen children, taught to read by his mother, Susannah Wesley, whose diligence in rearing her children in the Word of God is famous, Charles Wesley's love of Christ and passion for the Gospel would result in pouring over six thousand hymns upon the church during his lifetime. He loved the story of Christ and put it into every one of them. This Advent hymn was an early one, published in his first book of hymns, Hymns for the Nativity of Christ. Later it would be popularized when it was set to a Welsh tune (Hyfrydol) a hundred years later.
Come, Thou Long Expected 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 world 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.
From the Living Book, a seed sown in Wesley's heart burst to new life in this song: "And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts." (Haggai 2:7)
It is a dark and hopeless world, but we who know the long expected Savior who was coming into the world and whose appearing we celebrate again each dark December, sing in hope.
For the joy of reading,