This is probably my favorite Advent hymn. I love the original two verses by Wesley, but I especially appreciate the first half of verse 3, penned by Mark Hunt.
I’m a bit of a hum-bug about Christmas, but hymns like this really do prepare my heart (through the truth of the Gospel presented therein) for the celebration of our Substitute’s birth.
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
Joy to those who long to see thee
Day-spring from on high, appear
Come, thou promised Rod of Jesse
Of thy birth, we long to hear
O’er the hills the angels singing
News, glad tidings of a birth
“Go to him, thy praises bringing:
Christ the Lord has come to earth!”
Come to earth to taste our sadness
He whose glories knew no end
By his life he brings us gladness
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend
Leaving riches without number
Born within a cattle stall
This the ever-lasting wonder:
Christ was born the Lord of all
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.
Stanzas 1 & 4: Charles Wesley, 1744
Stanzas 2 & 3: Mark E. Hunt, 1978, ©1978 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
Such lyrics bring me only to say with the Spirit, “Come, Lord Jesus. Even so, quickly come.”
Our responsibility is not only to preach Christ, but to extol him in song. Hymns like this help us do that effectively because the people never remember the outline of the sermon…and they might remember the illustrations…but they WILL remember the songs. So preach the Gospel this holiday seasons…pastors and worship leaders alike. Don’t give them warm-fuzzies…give them the king that came as a child in order that he would reign over us, having purchased us by dying for us. Folks, Wesley knocked this one out of the park.