Posted by: rcottrill | December 4, 2017

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Charles Wesley (b. Dec. 18, 1707; d. Mar. 29, 1788)
Music: Hyfrydol, by Roland Huw Prichard (b. Jan. 14, 1811; d. Jan. 25, 1887)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: John Wesley, with his brother Charles, brought revival and influenced social reform in Britain in their day. While John did most of the preaching, Charles provided more than 6,000 hymns that winged the truth into hearts through music. Two and a half centuries later, hymn books still contain many of his songs: Jesus, Lover of My Soul; Christ the Lord Is Risen Today; Rejoice, the Lord Is King; Depth of Mercy, Can There Be; O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing; Hark, the Herald Angels Sing; And Can It Be? and Soldiers of Christ Arise, to name just a few.

The great Welsh tune Hyfrydol is also used with the hymn Our Great Saviour, and can be used effectively with Philip Bliss’s hymn, I Will Sing of My Redeemer.

The stillness of the night seems to wash tension from our souls, bringing a calming sense of peace. We heave a gentle sigh of contentment. Then, suddenly, the silence is broken by a crack of thunder, and soon torrents of rain are lashing windows illuminated by jagged streaks of lightning.

A sudden noise can break the silence. But we use that phrase another way too. It can mean we begin to talk about something that seemed to be, for whatever reason, off limits before. A variety of subjects can be kept from casual conversation by a kind of unspoken consensus. Family conflicts, money troubles, and more. Years ago, nervous breakdowns and depression, a pregnancy outside of marriage, and terminal illness were seldom discussed openly. (Some doctors even advised not telling the patient that his life was about to end.)

There can be silence as well about social wrongs rooted in prejudice. In Canada, First Nations people have broken the silence about abuses suffered during the days of the Residential Schools (1876-1996). And in recent days more and more women are speaking up about verbal and physical abuse suffered in the workplace and elsewhere. In many cases the harm that was done has left behind a trail of bitterness, mistrust, and even despair.

Breaking the silence takes courage, but ideally it will bring a new sense of hope and freedom to the individual, and a new understanding on the part of the rest of us. Learning to listen with compassion, and be supportive, when sufferers share painful things, can help to bring change and healing.

In the Bible, there is a long silence of another kind that was suddenly broken. It actually divides our Bible in two.

In about 415 BC, the Old Testament prophet Malachi predicted the coming of the Lord, and the ministry of John the Baptist to announce His appearing.

“Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight” (Mal. 3:1).

Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. When we turn the page, Matthew begins. But four centuries passed in between. Bible scholars sometimes refer to them as the Four Hundred Silent Years. “The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings [or beams]” wrote the prophet (Mal. 4:2). But when? Year after year the people of Israel waited and longed for His coming, only to be disappointed.

Generations passed. And there does not seem to have been a single inspired prophecy in all those years. Only divine silence.

The breaking of the silence came around 5 BC, with an angelic visitation to an elderly Levitical priest named Zacharias. His wife Elizabeth was barren, and a senior citizen too. But the angel informed Zacharias that he would have a son, one who’d “go before Him [the Lord Jesus]” and “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk. 1:17). God’s “messenger” predicted by Malachi was to come at last.

Six months later, the angel Gabriel visited a young virgin in Nazareth named Mary, and told her that, by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, she would give birth to the promised One, the Messiah–to be called Jesus (Lk. 1:31-35).

After His birth in Bethlehem, the angelic announcement came, “There is born to you…a Saviour.” And the joyful news of His coming called for the enlistment of a whole choir of angels proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest! (Lk. 2:11, 14).

In 1745 hymn writer Charles Wesley published a short hymn that brought the longing for His advent down to a personal level. It expresses the needy sinner’s desire that Christ would enter his life to bring eternal salvation and a new hope and new direction in life, through His reign there.

CH-1) 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.

CH-2) 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.

Questions:
1) As a Jew who believed God’s Word, how would you feel and act if you lived during the Four Hundred Silent Years?

2) What would be the evidence in lives if Christ were to “rule in all our hearts alone [i.e. without a rival]”?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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