I think this is one of the most beautiful hymn tunes. And Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus is one of my favorite hymn settings. I have attempted to make the musical arrangement portray the sense of longing that the Hebrew people felt as they awaited the arrival of their Messiah. This motif that you hear in the opening section, and again in the interlude of measures 28-35, is never despondent. It always conveys a strong sense of hope. Even when I switch to the minor mode in measure 44-51, it brings about a sense of humility rather than foreboding.
One of my favorite moments in this piece is measures 67-70. Right after you sing “Raise us to Thy glorious throne”, you can hear the music slowly rising up to the downbeat of measure 71. Every time I hear this section I catch a glimpse of what it might be like for us to spend eternity praising God, on His throne, in heaven. You’ll notice that the musical motif I previously mentioned, symbolizing hope in the coming Messiah, arrives at measure 71 as the accompaniment to your singing “Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art.” I hope that you and your congregation will experience the “joy of every longing heart” when you sing this anthem.