“The Lord has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives” Isaiah 61:1
I grew up on hymns. To this day their melodies–rich with truth–often serve as a pacemaker for my heart. It has been said that Charles Wesley, the most prolific hymn writer of all time, taught the Church more through his hymns than did his brother John through his sermons. How true it is that hymns have informed Christian lives with the deep truths of Scripture. In my own life, their poetic melodies have served as tender chisels in my spiritual formation.
I miss the hymns. You hardly hear them sung anymore. Songs that shaped and saturated Christian community for centuries are now replaced with novel, inspirationals. I miss the hymns because of their fixation on the person and character of God. God inspires me. In a hymn you sing along with the brothers and sisters of centuries past who fixed their hope on the only One that captured their heart’s devotion. Your voice becomes one with those whose generation is silenced by death, but their faith sings on. I miss singing in the great choir.
Each year as Christmas approaches, I love the hymns more and miss their absence from our celebration. To remedy this, in part, I will be dedicating the month of December to reflect on Christ’s birth, and His great salvation, as expressed to us in the great hymns of old. I know that Christmas is a frantic time of chasing your calendar by its tail…but slow down and don’t forget Jesus. If you know the tune to the hymn–sing it, let it echo in your heart all day long. If you don’t, meditate on the words–they will inoculate you from forgetfulness. Let these hymns enrich your preparation for Christmas. Let them tether you to their truth; we have a Savior!
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”
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 They glorious Throne.
Text: Charles Wesley, 1744
Israel longed for their Messiah (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2). Are you longing for yours?