Sacred Music Sunday: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
When I joined the church in 1994, there was a millennial fervor. Jesus was coming again, and though we didn’t know when, it was generally believed that it would be soon. It was an exciting time. The second coming had been prophesied for nearly two thousand years, and my generation was supposed to be the one to usher in the return of Jesus.
Then the year 2000 came and went with no fanfare, and a lot of the talk died down. There were a few local non-LDS churches in my area who would come up with predictions on specific dates based on extensive Bible study (but missing the verse that says that nobody knows the day or the hour). One of those predicted dates was the day of my law school graduation. I joked to my classmates that it would be just our luck that we finally make it through only for the world to end.
Although as a teenager I was sure that the second coming would be imminent, as an adult, I’ve come to a different interpretation. The earth is over 4 billion years old, and Jesus is said to have been born in the meridian of time, or somewhere near the middle. So I’m not expecting the second coming for another 4 billion years or so. Of course, since nobody knows the day or the hour, I remain open to being wrong on that.
But I do love the time leading up to Christmas because it reminds me of the anticipation of the second coming of Jesus. Just as we celebrate when He first came to earth, it’s a reminder that He will come again. When He came the first time, many people missed His arrival because He came as a baby in a manger instead of a warrior in power. We’re expecting Him to come as a warrior in power the second time instead, but what if our own expectations cause us to miss Him again?
Either way, just as I look forward to celebrating His first arrival in a few days, I look forward to His second arrival whenever He does come back. A hymn that gets at this duality really well for me is Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. It’s another hymn set to the tune of Hyfrydol – the same music that’s used for In Humility, our Savior and Love Divine, all Loves Excelling.