“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (ELW 254)
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 ev’ry nation,
joy of ev’ry 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.
This little gem of a hymn, written in the late 1700s by the prolific hymn writer Charles Wesley, has undergone only one small change in all the years since. The word “release” in verse 1 has replaced the original “relieve.” The change seeks to keep clear for a modern audience this hymn’s reminder that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of the prophets’ messages, who has come to free us from all our fears of bondage and sin. In this hymn the singer does not speak indirectly about Jesus, but confidently addresses Jesus as one who is ready to hear and answer. As singers, we ask Jesus to do several things for us, perhaps the most relevant for us this Advent season is to “set us free from our fears.” Free from fear, what is there to prevent us from following the shepherds in telling everyone what we have seen and heard?
Messiah, released from fear, with sins forgiven, make us into your disciples willing and joyously sharing the Good News that only you bring. Amen.