Twelve Songs of Christmas
#3: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
During the season of Advent, we prepare for the coming of the celebration of Jesus at Christmas. In doing so, we put ourselves in the place of the followers of God who were waiting for the coming Messiah. There were many thoughts as to what kind of a Messiah was coming. For the most part, it was thought that the coming Messiah would be king David's heir. The Messiah would be one who would rescue Israel from their enemies. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is writing about two Messiahs that are coming, one a priest and another a king.
As we read the New Testament, we find Jesus fulfilling the role of both Priest and King.
The people were looking for a Messiah to save them; to rescue them. This hymn by Charles Wesley taps in to this sense of waiting and expectation that the people were feeling.
Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
As a child, I don't remember celebrating the season of Advent. Our church may have done so. I remember special services on Christmas, and I remember Christmas Eve services, but I do not remember celebrating Advent, which is a shame. Much of the miracle of Christmas is lost if the expectation is absent. Jesus did not appear in the midst of a joyous, at-ease people. Jesus came to a people who were waiting for a savior from their enemies. In the midst of that expectation--a baby in a manger.
from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.
A people overwhelmed with their sinfulness and fear is looking for rest. Through this baby, they will find their rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
This Messiah that Israel is waiting for; this Messiah that gives strength and hope to God's people; this Messiah is not only hope for Israel, but is hope for the entire world!
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
Not only is the coming Messiah going to be the king of the nations; he will be the King of every heart that yearns for him as well.
Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King,
The King who will deliver his people came as a child. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14).
born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
Wesley asks that this King who was coming to reign will rule in the hearts of his people.
by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.
Finally, the song ends with an expectation of Christ's return; a fitting end to a song about expectation.
The season of Advent is about expectation. We followers of Christ put ourselves in the place of those who were waiting, longing for a Messiah to save them. We remember this longing, and how it was met with the King of kings being born in a stable. We long as well; we long for the coming kingdom.