Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Variations on “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”      J. Barmherzig (1710-1763) [HARPSICHORD]

“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”


After their marriage, Charles Wesley (1707-1788) and his wife Sally set up housekeeping in Bristol, England, heading up the Methodist activities there. Later they moved to London so Charles could work more closely with his brother John. All the while he was writing hymns. There are few stories behind specific hymns because Charles was just always writing them, needing neither events to inspire him nor stretches of meditative time to develop his ideas. He was just always writing hymns.

Henry Moore, a friend of his, later described Charles: “When he was nearly eighty he rode a little horse, gray with age…. As he jogged leisurely along, he jotted down any thought that struck him. He kept a card in his pocket for this purpose, on which he wrote his hymn in shorthand. Not infrequently he had come to our house in City Road, and, having left the pony in the garden in front, he would enter, crying out, ‘Pen and ink! Pen and ink!” These being supplied he wrote the hymn he had been composing.”

How many hymns did Wesley compose? We’re not sure. In all, Charles wrote over nine thousand literary texts of one sort or another — not all of them hymns. Experts put the number of hymns somewhere between three and six thousand, among them “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.”