612. Lo! He Comes, with Clouds Descending

1 Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
once for our salvation slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ the Lord returns to reign.

2 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,
shall the true Messiah see.

3 Those dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture, with what rapture
gaze we on those glorious scars!

4 Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
claim the kingdom for thine own:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou shalt reign, and thou alone.

Text Information
First Line: Lo! he comes, with clouds descending
Title: Lo! He Comes, with Clouds Descending
Author: Charles Wesley (1758)
Meter: 87 87 87
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ;
Topic: Praise & Adoration; Return of Christ; The New Creation (4 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: Henry Purcell (c. 1692)
Meter: 87 87 87
Key: G Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Matt. 24:30, Rev. 5:11-13
st. 2 = Rev. 1:7, Zech. 12:10, John 19:37

In 1750 John Cennick, a friend of John and Charles Wesley (PHH 267), wrote an Advent hymn that began, "Lo! he cometh, countless trumpets blow before his bloody sign!" Cennick's hymn was published in his Collection (1752). Charles Wesley completely rewrote the text and published his version in Hymns of Intercession for all Mankind (1758) with the title "Thy Kingdom Come" (changed to "The Second Advent" in other editions). Though later hymnals occasionally mixed Cennick's lines with Wesley's, the Psalter Hymnal includes most of Wesley's original text.

Like so many of Wesley's texts, "Lo! He Comes" abounds with biblical imagery. Stanzas 1, 2, and 4 are based on the rich language of John's apocalyptic visions recorded in Revelation 1:7 and 5:11-13. The third stanza reminds us that Christ's wounds and atoning death should lead us to greater faith and ultimately to our worship of Christ in glory (as Christ himself reminded the doubting Thomas). Stanza 4 is a majestic doxology to Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Liturgical Use:
Advent; other worship services that focus on Christ's coming again in glory.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

WESTMINSTER ABBEY was composed by Henry Purcell (b. Westminster, London, England, 1659; d. Westminster, 1695), perhaps the greatest English composer who ever lived, though he only lived to the age of thirty-six. Purcell's first piece was published at age eight when he was also a chorister in the Chapel Royal. When his voice changed in 1673, he was appointed assistant to John Hingston, who built chamber organs and maintained the king's instruments. In 1674 Purcell began tuning the Westminster Abbey organ and was paid to copy organ music. Given the position of composer for the violins in 1677, he also became organist at Westminster Abbey in 1679 (at age twenty) and succeeded Hingston as maintainer of the king's instruments (1683). Purcell composed music for the theater (Dido and Aeneas, c. 1689) and for keyboards, provided music for royal coronations and other ceremonies, and wrote a substantial body of church music, including eighteen full anthems and fifty-six verse anthems.

WESTMINSTER ABBEY comes from the concluding "alleluias" in Purcell's verse anthem "0 God, thou art my God" (c. 1692). That anthem was published in William Boyce's Cathedral Music, vol. 2, 1760. Ernest Hawkins arranged the "alleluias" as a hymn tune for use in Vincent Novello's The Psalmist (1843). The tune achieved great popularity after its publication in the 1939 Shortened Music Edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern and after its use at several British royal weddings. Often associated with "Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation," WESTMINSTER ABBEY is named after the famous cathedral in London. Originally in B-flat, Purcell's tune was transposed down in Hawkins's arrangement; consequently some adjustments were made in the part writing. This magnificent tune requires spirited singing and a fairly lively tempo. Yet the tempo should be majestic, swinging in two large beats per measure. Have the choir sing one stanza unaccompanied for variety.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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