Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus – the Christmas Carol Crafted from a Prayer

It was 1744 and Charles Wesley was frustrated. The impoverished world around him was filled with homeless people, orphaned children, and the Scroogelike indifference of Christians to the suffering of the lower class. Looking for inspiration, he searched the scriptures and came across the following words: “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will find this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:7). 

After reading the scripture, Wesley wrote the following prayer: “Born Your people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now Your gracious kingdom bring.” Wesley soon adapted the prayer into a hymn he titled Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus which expressed a hope for the newborn Christ to eventually come again and set all things right. He published it in his own Hymns for the Nativity of our Lord hymnal.

Over a century later, the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon based around Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. Spurgeon stated that he did so to “Illustrate the point that very few are ‘born king’ and that Jesus was the only one who had been born king without being a prince.” The sermon popularized the song and was most likely the reason it made its way into the hymnals of multiple denominations. 

Click here to hear Meredith Andrews sing Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.

*Image courtesy of Omar Lopez and Unsplash

**This post and others like it can be found at www.johnjfrady.com

The Christmas Carol That Needed A Little Help

The Christmas Carol That Needed A Little Help

Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley, was an early leader in the Methodist Church. It has been reported that in his lifetime, he wrote over 6,000 hymns in order to teach the poor and illiterate sound doctrine. One Christmas day, as he walked to church, he was inspired by the sounds of the London church bells to write a new Christmas Carol. It was then that he quickly penned the lyrics to “Hark, How All the Welkin Rings.”

Charles Wesley’s new carol first appeared in 1739 in Hymns and Sacred Songs. It was intended to be sung to EASTER HYMN, the tune of Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

Here are the first two verses of the original song: 

Hark, how all the welkin rings, Glory to the King of kings;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies;

Universal nature say, “Christ the Lord is born today!”

Yeah, kind of different, huh?

A few years later, George Whitefield, a student turned colleague turned rival of John and Charles Wesley, adapted the lyrics into the version we now sing. Whitefield selected a new tune titled MENDELSSOHN and He published the newly revised version in 1757 under its new title Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. 

Although Whitefield rarely gets credit for the changes, his contributions to the carol helped leave a wonderfully revised version the whole world seems to prefer. 

Listen to both versions below and judge for yourself.

Click here to hear Hark! The Herald Angels Sing performed by Nat King Cole

Click here to hear Hark, How All the Welkin Rings performed by the Boys of Worcester Cathedral Choir. 
*Image courtesy of Chad Madden and Unsplash