Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Carols of Advent: Part One

        This is the first post in a short series for Christmas called The Carols of Advent.  In three posts before Christmas we will be looking at three hymns normally sung during the Christmas season and briefly studying their history and theology.  Here is the first one:

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 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.

        "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" is a beautiful hymn of longing and hope for the coming of our Saviour. The hymn was written by Charles Wesley, who was a missionary and hymn-writer, in the mid 1700's* for the season of Advent.  Since then, it has become one of the better known Advent hymns sung by Christians around the world.
        In the first verse, the singer longs for the coming of Christ, both now and in the future.  Now - for we yearn for Jesus to set us free from the bondage to sin in our flesh; and the future - when Christ will release us from our mortality and we will obtain eternal freedom as children of God. The second verse points out that Jesus is truly the only Comforter, and comes to bring peace, joy, and freedom in the end.  In the final two verses, we first see Christ as the One who died on the cross for our sins - the one who came in the likeness of man, condemned sin in the flesh, and raised to the right hand of the Father, where he reigns forever. Finally, by His Spirit, Jesus rules in those hearts which trust in Him, and by his work, not our own, raises us as new creations once and for all time.
        As today is two weeks before Christmas, let us sing or read this hymn looking forward to Jesus' coming.

Written and Posted by William A Moore

*This hymn is one for which the exact date of writing is not known.

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