Hymn Story

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Hymn lists
by book of Bible

Charles Wesley wrote seventy-five hundred hymns (Encyclopedia Britannica) — roughly a hymn every other day for fifty years.  I find that amazing!  It would be amazing if he had written one verse every other day, but most of his hymns have several verses.  I can scarcely imagine how he managed to do anything else — but he was a great preacher as well as a great writer of hymns.

The hymn, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” looks forward to Jesus’ Second Coming.  It begins, “Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free.”  Wesley looked 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 America on a mission, 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.  It wasn’t long before he returned to England.

Some would criticize Wesley for not remaining in America to join the fight against slavery, but Wesley’s weapons were his sermons and his hymns.  For the next several decades, his sermons and hymns lent their power to the efforts to make people free — free from slavery — free from fear — free from sin.

Copyright 2005, Richard Niell Donovan