Charles Wesley published the song Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” in 1744 as part of his collection called Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord. Wesley knew that music was a powerful tool for helping people understand and celebrate the invisible realities of God’s Kingdom. 

The poetry is elegant, yet simple. The theology is robust and uplifting. The quality of expression is timeless. Reading the text almost feels like reading the words of a prophet or an angel. Wesley captures the great human longing for rescue from the brokenness and captivity of self-rule. He proclaims the evangel clearly: Christ’s birth opens a way for us to enter the Kingdom of God as we let him rule in all our hearts alone.” 

Referencing the hymn in a sermon delivered on December 23, 1855, Charles Spurgeon wrote: 

He came to be a ruler over Israel. My brother, hast thou submitted to the sway of Jesus? Is he ruler in thine heart, or is he not? Oh!’ saith one, I do as I please, I was never in bondage to any man.’ Ah! then thou hatest the rule of Christ. Ay,’ says another, I have professed his religion, and I am his follower.’ But doth he rule in thine heart? Doth he command thy will? Doth he guide thy judgment? Dost thou ever seek counsel at his hand in thy difficulties?”1

We invite you to take a fresh look at this familiar hymn. Remind yourself of God’s presence with you, and let the hymn text be a conversation starter for you with the one who was born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever.” 


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.

  1. The Incarnation and Birth of Christ. A Sermon (No. 57), Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 23rd, 1855, by the REV. C. H. Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark. The Spurgeon Archive Collection administered by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hosted by WPEngine. ↩︎

Hymn text in the public domain.

Art by Matilde Olivera. Virgen con Niño. Escayola cerámica, 3027 cm, 2020

Text First Published December 1744 · Last Featured on December 2021