Original hymn by Charles Wesley.
Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear;
All His saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
See the day of God appear!
Redemption in the sense that this verse employs refers to the resurrection of the dead and transformation of the living saints at Christ’s coming. They will receive bodies like Christ’s own resurrection body; these will be glorious, not subject to decay and capable of things our earthly bodies cannot do of themselves. Christ comes with a triumphal procession worthy of His standing as God, Saviour, and King. He possesses His own objective glory, which can overawe the impenitent, but those who love Him render glory to Him of their own volition as a sign of their recognition of who He is and what He has done. The followers of Christ in this age are largely the “little people” of this world, twice rejected: rejected because they are not glorious by the world’s standards, rejected because they have dared to swear allegiance to Christ in defiance of the Devil, the Dark Powers, and human sin. Those who love Him will be gathered by His angels to greet Him in the air, just as conquerors were greeted by those loyal to them outside the city they were about to enter. For those who love Christ, who love righteousness, His return will be a day of joy.
Answer Thine own bride and Spirit,
Hasten, Lord, the general doom!
The new Heav’n and earth t’inherit,
Take Thy pining exiles home:
All creation, all creation, all creation,
Travails! groans! and bids Thee come!
The Bride is the body of human believers in Christ. This is a development of the prophetic metaphor applied to Israel in the Old Testament, viz. the Wife of YHWH. The idea behind this metaphor is that we are to be completely loyal to our Lord. In other words, we must not have dealings with other spiritual forces by taking part in other religions, be it mixing them with Christianity or leaving Christianity altogether (apostasy). The “adultery” referred to by the prophets was the worship of other gods, such as Baal. Those who love the Lord long for Him to finally take the earth, to renew it, cleansing it of physical, spiritual, and moral evil. It is iniquitous for good people to be forever subject to evil laws and evil rulers. When Christ returns to rule from Jerusalem and inherit the earth, He will do away with such things, that the righteous may dwell on earth in peace and prosperity. Until that day we are exiles, sojourners on this earth, not at home with evil rule and evil culture.
The 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!
We love Christ because He first loved us. Contemplation of Christ’s incarnation, passion, and resurrection, should be at the heart of our relationship with Him. His scars show us His perfect righteousness and His perfect justice. That He eternally bears these wounds is a testament to the eternal and perfect nature of His love for us. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi). The term “rapture” here refers not to our greeting the Lord in the air, previously mentioned in this hymn, but to the joy, the euphoria, the ecstasy we shall have at seeing our Saviour and being struck by His beauty as we catch a glimpse of those scars. He has transformed the ugly into the beautiful; He has turned sinners into saints. Only with God is this possible.
Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!