Probably one of the first hymns that Charles Wesley wrote, it was published in a collection of hymns in 1744 called, “Hymns on The Nativity of Our Lord.” Note how rich the stanzas are with scriptural truth.
First there are the words, “Come, Thou long-expected Jesus.” That asks us to look at the first coming of Christ from the perspective of an Old Testament saint. For the Old Testament saint, Jesus’ first coming has not yet occurred, and so we are asked to take the position of an Old Testament saint, and look at the coming of Christ with a longing expectation that the Messiah is coming into the world.
But there is a delightful irony in Charles Wesley's very first words. He says: “Come, Thou long-expected...Jesus.” That is a name that the Old Testament saint did not have the privilege of knowing. The Old Testament saint longed for the coming of the Messiah, but he didn't know that the Messiah would be Jesus, and as new covenant saints we have the privilege of calling upon the name of the person of the Messiah. We sing the name of the Messiah back to God, whereas the old covenant saint could only look forward to His coming. “Come, Thou long-expected Jesus....”
- Ligon Duncan