From the 8th century, we move to the 18th, and from the stillness of “Creator of the Stars of Night” we move to Charles Wesley’s vigorous “Come, O Long Expected Jesus.” The tune is the familiar “Stuttgart,” and so it would be hard to find a hymn more easily learned and sung than this. All the notes of the melody stay firmly on the staff (nothing lower than a middle ‘C’ and nothing higher than the ‘D’ above middle ‘C’). And the rhythm is a brisk 4/4, with the quarter notes moving us along towards the coming day.
The Wesleys often use hymns to teach scripture.
Charles Wesley, who, with his brother, John, founded the Methodist Church, compiled the first hymnal published in America, the 1737 Charleston Hymnal.
The Wesleys often use hymns to teach scripture and this one is no exception. Look for references to 2 Corinthians 4:14 and Revelations 3:21 in the first stanza. Look for references to Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4: 18-19 and Romans 6:22 in the third and fourth stanzas. Like “Creator of the Stars of Night,” and unlike the seasonal mall music, this hymn is not just preparation for the coming Christmas. It anticipates the second coming of Christ, when the One “born to reign in us forever,” will that “gracious kingdom bring.”
Because it’s brief and so easily sung, this one is ideal for Advent meal prayer, and, because it is so lively, it is also well suited to Advent morning prayer. This version is from the Gather Comprehensive hymnal, published by GIA. Read the text and listen to the music here:
Come, O long expected Jesus,
Born to set your people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Free us from captivity.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
You, the hope of all the earth,
Dear desire of every nation,
Come, and save us by your birth.
Born your people to deliver;
Born a child and yet a king!
Born to reign in us forever,
Now your gracious kingdom bring.
By your own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By your all sufficient merit
Raise us to your glorious throne.