Hymns & Songs

Expecting the return of Christ

Dec 2012    

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus (UMH 196)

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus
Born to set y 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 ou 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 y gracious kingdom bring.
By ine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Text: Charles Wesley

“COME, THOU LONG-EXPECTED JESUS” was first published in 1744 in Charles Wesley’s Hymns for the Nativity of our Lord. Although the hymn was originally categorised as a Nativity hymn, it is now listed as an Advent hymn by the various hymnals that re-printed it.

Advent means “coming” or “arrival”. In this hymn, Wesley reflects the dual meaning of Advent: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. The first coming is seen in the lines “born to set y people free … Israel’s strength and consolation”. This is a fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 61:1-2.

While we remember Christ’s birth, we also hear the prayer for Christ’s return which is the “desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart”.

Dr C. Michael Hawn, Director of the Sacred Music Program at Perkins School of Theology, provides an interesting analysis of this hymn. ( e full text is available at http://www.umportal.org/ main/article.asp?id=8392.) Dr Hawn observes Wesley’s use of the cumulative technique – a repetition of a word for effect. In this hymn the word “born” was used four times.

Dr Hawn says: “Each time ‘born’ is sung, an aspect of Jesus’ mission to a troubled world is revealed: ‘Born to set y people free’; ‘Born y people to deliver’; ‘Born a child and yet a king’; ‘Born to reign in us forever’.”

A second observation by Dr Hawn is that the hymn has the quality of a petition (a prayer that implores Christ to be among us). “Imperative verbs are used six times in the two stanzas found in the hymnal: ‘Come, Thou long-expected Jesus’; ‘From our fears and sins release us’; ‘Let us find our rest in Thee’; ‘Now y gracious kingdom bring’; ‘Rule in all our hearts alone’; ‘Raise us to y glorious throne’.

“ The cumulative effect of these petitions is a tone of supplication. Wesley succeeds in recalling the deep longing of ancient Israel for the Messiah – the Promised One.”

This hymn puts us in touch with the mystery of faith that we proclaim when we gather for Holy Communion: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” When we proclaim “Christ will come again,” we are left to wonder: “When?”

Wesley teaches us that as we ponder God’s reign through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ, we can remember this hymn and be assured that in Christ we will find our rest, strength, consolation, and hope. We also allow the Spirit to rule our hearts until the final day when God raises us to His glorious throne.

Judith Mosomos is a Lecturer in Church Music at the Methodist School of Music.

BOOKS

The need for Sabbath

SABBATH IS A GIFT of life given to us so that we may find our rest and renewal in God. In our maddening, busy lifestyle, how can we truly understand what life and pastoral ministry is all about?

A new book entitled Sabbath for Pastors by the Rev Dr Mark Chua is aimed at helping Christians regain their focus on God and discover in Him a wellspring of joy and delight. e Rev Dr Chua is an Associate Pastor of the Chinese Methodist Hokkien Church in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In the book, he discusses the problem of stress and burnout, as well as the need for Sabbath in our lives and ministries. As noted by the Rev Dr Brian Edgar, Professor of eological Studies at Asbury eological Seminary: “Sabbath for Pastors is not just a book about the Sabbath, nor is it only about pastors. Sabbath has important implications for the spiritual life of the church as a whole.”

Sabbath for Pastors is published by GraceWorks Pte Ltd and retails at $12 (nett). It is available at SKS Books Warehouse (6227-9700), the Biblical Graduate School of eology’s Book Corner (6227-6815), and the GraceWorks online store at www.graceworks.com.sg

BOOKS

Giving youths ‘room to grow’

ROOM TO GROW is a book that celebrates the grace of God in the lives of a group of youths from the Wesley Youth Centre (YC), under the mentorship of renowned counsellor and social worker, Mr Anthony Yeo.

In the mid-1970s, Singapore was very different from the safe country we know today. It was an era of gangsters and drugs, and street fights were common. In the book, these youths – many of whom smoked, swore and fought in gangs – recollect their days at the YC, and tell of how their lives were transformed for the better.

Mr Yeo, then a young, newly-minted counsellor, was hired by Wesley Methodist Church (WMC) to give shape and form to this drop-in centre for young people.

Jointly published by YC alumnus Mr Augustine Teo and WMC, Room to Grow is priced at $15. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Anthony Yeo Education Fund.

For orders or more information, contact Ms Sharon Khoo at 6339-7350 or sharonk@wesleymc.org

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