Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending

The overarching theme of Advent is the coming of Christ, both in the manger at Bethlehem and in the clouds of glory at the end of the age. As such, Charles Wesley’s adaptation of John Cennick’s “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending” has become a standard Advent hymn in our day, though I think it is largely underutilized.

The piece is both pensive and soaring, especially those arrangements that feature a descant on the final stanza. Evangelical congregations typically use the Regent Square tune (“Angels from the Realms of Glory”), while high churches often use the Helmsley tune, which is the one featured in the video below.

The benefit of having an eclectic musical taste is that I get to experience and appreciate a wide range of musical expressions—sacred or otherwise. When I was in Oxford last year, I “got my inner Anglican on” by participating in two Evensong services, both of which were astoundingly beautiful, not to mention food for the soul. So, yes, I can swing from Hillsong to Evensong with no heartburn at all. In fact, I rather enjoy the adventure.

Moreover, variety is a great “rut buster,” so tomorrow I’ll share some Christmas jazz tunes I’ve been listening to lately. On this Second Sunday of Advent, however, we’ll stick with the sacred. Enjoy the choir of Lichfield Cathedral singing this lovely Advent meditation. All pictures are from their cathedral in Staffordshire, England.

Lo, He comes with clouds descending, 
Once for favoured sinners slain; 
Thousand thousand saints attending 
Swell the triumph of His train: 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! 
God appears on earth to reign. 

Every eye shall now behold Him 
Robed in dreadful majesty; 
Those who set at naught and sold Him, 
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree, 
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing, 
Shall the true Messiah see. 

Those dear tokens of His passion 
Still his dazzling body bears, 
Cause of endless exultation 
To His ransomed worshippers: 
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture, 
Gaze we on those glorious scars! 

Yea, Amen, let all adore thee, 
High on Thine eternal throne; 
Saviour, take the power and glory, 
Claim the kingdom for Thine own: 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! 
Thou shalt reign and Thou alone.

Image Credits: depositphotos.com.

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