Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, December, 2015

posted Dec 1, 2015, 1:54 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Dec 1, 2015, 1:54 PM ]

A Favorite Advent Carol


Charles Wesley (1707-1788), younger brother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, came to be regarded as the world's most renowned composer of hymns. Charles wrote hundreds of hymns and poems and was one of the most prolific of all English poets. For 50 years he averaged a hymn every other day. His hymns give witness to the power of God in Christ for the world in every age and cover a broad range of topics.

In writing, "Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;"  Wesley was looking forward to the time when Jesus would come again to set us free from fear and sin. Wesley knew what it meant for people not to be free.  When he was about thirty years old, he traveled to the American colonies on a mission assignment, where he saw slavery in its rawest form.  He recorded in his journal that he had seen parents give their child a slave to torment.  Wesley was so shaken by the evil of slavery that he nearly had a nervous breakdown and it wasn't long before he returned home again to England.

His hymn “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” was written by Wesley at about forty years of age. His inspiration came from the words of the Old Testament prophet Haggai, “I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,” says the Lord Almighty.

Over the course of time, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” has emerged as Charles Wesley's second most popular carol for the Christmas season behind only, “Hark, the Herald Angels sing.”

Published in 1744, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” at first was sung to several different melodies, although “Hyfrydol” eventually came to be most popular. Written by Roland Huw Pritchard, an untrained musician from Wales who led singing in his home church, this tune has come to be used with other spiritual verses as well.

Our current United Methodist Hymnal lists “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” as hymn #196. Charles Wesley's original version had 8 stanzas of which 1&2 and 7&8 are now combined as two stanzas. You will see below some of Wesley's original words that add a somewhat different dimension to what we have been accustomed to singing all these years in the current version.


Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.


Joy to those who long to see thee,            O'er the hills the angels singing,

Day-spring from on high appear;               News glad tidings of a birth;

Come thou promised Rod of Jesse,          Go to him your praises bringing,  

Of Thy birth we long to hear.                     Christ the Lord has come to earth.


May these words of the angel chorus, “Christ the Lord has come to earth,” bless your hearts and lives throughout the holiday seasons of Advent and Christmas.

                                                                                                                                              George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries