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.
Appearing today in most Protestant hymnals, this Advent carol was initially written as a prayer by Charles Wesley in 1744. That same year, he adapted it into a hymn format and it became one of the over six thousand hymns he penned in his lifetime. Although it isn't certain which tune Wesley initially chose for the piece, it was probably Stuttgart, the tune with which it appears in Voices United. It is also often sung to Hyfrydol, the Welsh tune which is perhaps most commonly associated with Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.
Wesley is said to have been focusing on the issue of class division and the plight of orphans when he wrote the lyrics to this hymn. By recalling both Old and New Testament prophecy, he urges the listener to remember the nativity of the Messiah, and to long for his coming again. Over 30 scriptures are referenced in this hymn, including the Book of Haggai from the Hebrew Bible:
'I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD of hosts." - Haggai 2:7
Questions for Reflection:
- "Born a child and yet a king". What images or thoughts might this dichomoty signify?
- How are hoping and wishing different?
- How does it feel to rest? What are some ways I am resting in God this Advent season?