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.” 


1

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.

2

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 Renovare.org December 2021

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