Sunday Hymn: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

This morning we sang, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,”  to the tune of “Our Great Savior” (a.k.a. “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners”).  Everything progressed smoothly: the words appeared on the screen at just the right time.  This is always a good thing because (most of the time) those of us on the “praise team” do not know the words to the songs we’re singing.  I mean, we’re familiar enough with the tunes and the words to sing the songs, but we do not memorize them.

Sunday evening we sang it again.  This time, however, the words to the second verse didn’t make it to the screen at the right time.  And we were left standing there with our mouths open, not knowing what to say.

If time ever stops, it does so in moments like those.  24 beats felt like three minutes.  My brain had plenty of time to tell my mouth to start belting out, “Haaaalleluujah, what a Saavior/ Halleluuujah, whaat a friend…”  But then my poor brain told my mouth, “Hold up!  Wrong song…my bad.”

All we (the praise team) could do was stand and smile, while the congregants, who were holding hymnals, continued singing. It made me laugh (on the inside).

In the end, the words appeared on the screen in time for us to sing the final lines.

And so, because it is Advent season and because I (apparently) need to learn the words, I am posting this hymn today.

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Charles Wesley, 1744

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.

Please do not misunderstand my intentions behind sharing this.  I do not mean to make a disparaging comment about the people in charge of putting the words on the screens at our church.  After all, the Lord and I both know that I couldn’t handle the pressure to get all the audio/video/input/output/sound mixing just right to please everyone.  I’d end up hiding under the sound board in the fetal position after a few minutes.

What I will say is this:  I do think sometimes that we (churches in America, in general) are not doing ourselves any favors when we make worship so technologically cumbersome.  But, I guess, this is the age in which we live.  All the more reason to sing it again.

3 Comments on “Sunday Hymn: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

  1. Your experience gave me a chuckle. We’ve all been there–to experience the failure of technology at inopportune moments. I can recall a trio standing up ready to sing at a large conference, only to discover that they’d brought the wrong accompaniment tape.

    With only very slight apologies for being a “traditionalist,” let me say that perhaps your experience speaks in favour of good old hymn books. I like folks to see the music and sing parts if they can. And when I lead I sometimes call their attention to the names of the author and composer, above the music, telling a bit about one or the other. I’m not against technology, but there are many good things to be said for hymnals. Not the least is that families can have a copy at home, and read or sing the hymns in their devotions.

    Incidentally, today is the 303rd anniversary of the birth of Charles Wesley, whose great Christmas hymn you’ve posted. If you enjoy reading about our hymns and their authors, I invite you to check out my daily blog on the subject, Wordwise Hymns. And if you are interested in the stories behind our Christmas carols, I discuss 63 of them in my book, Discovering the Songs of Christmas.


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