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.
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne
As a Korean American growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta, I remember celebrating Christmas in our tiny first-generation Korean church. Each Christmas Day, we would gather as a congregation, young and old, sing Christmas carols, listen to a sermon in Korean (much of which I did not understand), and end our time in the fellowship hall breaking bread together. The sanctuary would be decorated and filled with poinsettias along the front of the stage with two tall lighted Christmas trees flanking the sides. We sang the usual Christmas hymns that everyone knows from “Joy to the world,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” to “Silent Night”—all sung in Korean. Afterwards, we would all head downstairs to the fellowship hall to gather at long rectangular tables lined up in neat rows up and down the large room, eating rice and soup with a side of kimchi, and piling our plates with special sweet Korean rice cakes called dukk for dessert.
As a young child, I found Christmas to be a joyous time for families in the Korean community to come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It was a season that many families would look forward to, and one of my favorite memories from childhood. As I grew into my adult years, I stumbled upon the season of Advent and fell deeply in love with the hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.”
I first heard “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” as a young adult in 2006 when it was released in the Passion Hymns Album. My heart was so captured by the simplicity of the words and music that I began to research the history behind the hymn. I discovered that this hymn was penned by Charles Wesley in 1744, who wrote many hymns including “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “Christ the Lord Is Ris’n Today.” During that time, the ongoing orphan situation and the class divide in Britain was troubling to Wesley’s heart. Influenced by the scripture passage found in Haggai 2:7, “And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts,” and a simple prayer, Wesley was led to write the hymn. It was his desire for people to remember the significance and weight of Advent in the heart of Christmas.
This simple hymn is often used at the start of the Advent season. The Latin word, Advent, means “coming.” The season is a time of longing and placing our hope in the second coming of our King, Jesus. It’s a season of making room in our hearts for more of Him. Advent was not introduced to me until my adult years, but I’m so grateful that the Lord brought it into my life to draw me towards Him. Who would have known that this beautiful simple prayer-like hymn would capture my heart and draw me closer to the Lord? Not only do we get to celebrate the birth of our Savior, but we also get to anticipate His second coming. I love that this hymn is very much like a prayer that we can say or sing at any time. It’s a hymn that centers and postures our hearts towards the only One who can save. It’s a hymn that beckons our Savior to come and fill each of our hearts. As you enter into this new season of Advent, I encourage you (as I am preaching to my own heart) to come as you are, make room for Him, and wait expectantly to see what only He can do.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Photo by Mario Losereit on Unsplash