Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Advent Arrives Again

The church year began again this past Sunday (year A, for all you Matthew fans). At church I was glad to sing Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, one of my favorites to sing and play. This Advent is special, however, for it also contains the 300th birthday of Charles Wesley. Born December 18, 1707, Wesley has left us with a corpus of some of the most wonderful English hymn texts in existence, both doctrinally and experientially.

Charles is sometimes overshadowed by his brother John, but Charles was heavily involved in what would become the Methodist denomination. His hymns are perhaps better known to many today than are John's sermons. He is credited with anywhere between 5500 and 6500 hymn texts, depending on the source. I've discussed one of my favorites before, but Charles has also left us with some wonderful Advent and Christmas texts, perhaps the most famous "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

This Sunday, however, we sang the Advent text "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus." It is usually set to the tune HYFRYDOL, although I did find it set to STUTTGART and a couple of others. Something that I like about Wesley's hymns is that each of them has such a strong proclamation of the gospel. This one is no exception.

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.

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