Charles Wesley is often overlooked in favour of his more illustrious brother, John. However, we should not ignore the huge impact that he made on the corporate worship on the English Church of the 18th Century. Initially his hymns, poems and songs were made famous in England, but later on they gained international prestige as Christians took the catchy tunes all over the world.
The first printed version of Come Thou Long Expected Jesus was found in a collection of Hymns that Charles put together for Advent in 1744. Therefore it is very likely that he wrote the words a while before this date. The lyrics remind us of two pivotal events in the Christian experience – the First Coming of Christ (Jesus’ birth) and his Second Coming. Wesley often used his songs to help the ‘ordinary person’ understand theology in a simpler way.
It is thought that Wesley may have taken some inspiration from many Old Testament passages which referred to the promise of freedom for the oppressed. The Lord (Messiah) was spoken of as Israel’s consolation.
Another unlikely source of inspiration may have come from Blaise Pascal, who is often quoted as arguing: "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every person that cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator.” If you read the last line of verse 1, you will see the connection to this point.
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 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 am grateful that Jesus has already come to offer us freedom, consolation and strength. We are certainly going through so many times of trial at the moment and it reassures me to know that my King reigns and will rule in my heart.
Living in Grace