Advent Devotional

December 8: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Today, we look at the second part of the medley on track 2 of our new Advent/Christmas album. It’s another traditional Christmas hymn with rich and beautiful lyrics for us to consider …

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

Joy to those who long to see thee, Dayspring from on high, appear
Come, thou promised Rod of Jesse of thy birth we long to hear
O’er the hills the angels singing, glad tidings of a birth
“Go to him, your praises bringing, Christ the Lord has come to earth!”

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 own sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne

Come, Messiah, come!
-Lyrics: Charles Wesley; Music: Christian Witt; Arrangement: Jordan Hurst

Scripture Reading

ISAIAH 16:3-5; 42:1-4

Give counsel; grant justice; make your shade like night at the height of noon; shelter the outcasts; do not reveal the fugitive; let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you; be a shelter to them from the destroyer. When the oppressor is no more, and destruction has ceased, and he who tramples underfoot has vanished from the land, then a throne will be established in steadfast love,  and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness.

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.

Devotional: Melanie Hebert

When I was in college, I taught piano lessons to families around Waco. Each year at Christmas I let my students pick a Christmas song to learn, and inevitably taught Jingle Bells and Silent Night on repeat every year. Once, a student surprised me by choosing Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Why would this little girl choose a dusty old hymn? Had she never heard Joy to the World, or O Holy Night? Surely this song, with its old-fashioned melody and King James words, wasn’t on anyone’s Christmas JAMZ playlist, was it?

She stuck with her choice, so I pulled out the sheet music and we worked on it as a duet. By the last week before Christmas, as we played and sang together in her living room, her whole family had gathered behind the piano, eagerly listening, drawn in by those King James words and lilting melodies. I realized that as old as this song may be, the feeling of longing that Wesley captures in his lyrics is timeless. Even now we are waiting and calling for the Lord to come and release us from our sin and fear.

I love the contrasts in this hymn – freedom and sin, a child and yet a king, the strength of Israel yet hope for every nation in all the earth, the long-expected Savior who arrives in the most unexpected way. The lyrics capture the tension, the contrasting feelings, of the Advent season. When we sing this hymn, we’re singing the words of Isaiah, whose prophecy of a Savior has already been fulfilled. And yet, the words resonate so deeply because we still long for God’s gracious kingdom to “rule in all our hearts.” As I sing it, I remember how God fulfilled his promise to his people after generations of waiting. Now, with renewed hope, I look forward to the day Christ will return again, assured that his all-sufficient merit will “raise us to His glorious throne.” What a joy it is to wait expectantly!

Coloring Sheet: Michelle Boyd

Members in our church have created coloring pages, which are designed for all ages and artistic ability, as a way to help you further engage with the lyrics and music. We invite you to slow down and meditate on the beauty and depth of this Advent season.

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[ Previous Devotionals ]

Dec. 3Dec. 1