Behind the Christmas Carol: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” was written by Charles Wesley.  He wrote the song to commemorate the Nativity of Jesus and prepare for the Second Coming.  He intended the song to be sung during Advent and Christmas.

Charles Wesley

In 1744, Charles Wesley looked at the situation of the orphans in the areas around him.  He also thought of the great class divide in Great Britain at the time.  He considered Haggai 2:7, “Born Your people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now Your gracious kingdom bring. By Your own eternal Spirit, rule in all our hearts alone; by Your all sufficient merit, raise us to Your glorious throne. Amen.”

He adapted this prayer into a hymn and published it in his “Hymns for the Nativity of our Lord” hymnal.

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” was the first of a number of Wesley’s hymns that became known as the “Festival hymns”.

The hymn spread throughout England and was made popular by Charles Spurgeon to other denominations. 

Spurgeon preached a sermon in 1855 on the hymn to “illustrate his point that very few are “born king” and that Jesus was the only one who had been born king without being a prince.”

In 1875, the hymn was first published in the Methodist Wesleyan Hymn Book.

The hymn has had a number of tunes and it is unknown what Wesley originally used.  The first tune used is believed to be “Stuttgart” written in 1716 by Christian Friedrich Witt.

A later tune used for it was “Hyfrydol”, a Welsh tune written in the 1800s by Rowland Hugh Prichard, which is also used for Wesley’s “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling“. Both tunes have the most popular in usage with the hymn.

Charles Wesley also wrote the Christmas carol Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.


Come Thou Long Expected Jesus was inspired by the great class divide of the 18th Century #hymnstory #Christmashymn Click To Tweet


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