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This song has been one of my Christmas favorites over the years. Guy Penrod’s lead vocals and David Phelps’ soaring tenor on the recording are the type of singing that in the past easily moved me to tears, even when I didn’t fully understand the words. When I listened again this week, I decided to check out the lyrics in the CD insert, and what I read was pure poetry. Suzanne Gaither Jennings is quite the lyricist, not unlike her mother Gloria Gaither. What a powerful anthem to the Sender and the Sent.

The Hand of Sweet Release

Come thou long expected Jesus,
Come illuminate the mysteries of life.
Come redeem us from the refuse,
Bring an end to endless suffering and strife.
Be the star that shines so brightly
That it draws our weary eyes to the sky,
to Heaven’s sky.
Dearest child of new beginnings,
Be the start of something beautiful, I cry.

There’s an end to all the waiting,
There’s an answer to the “who?” and “where?” and “why?” . . . tonight.
All the years anticipating,
Are surrendered to a tiny baby’s cry.
There’s a dawn to follow darkness,
There’s a face to fill the title, “Prince of Peace.”
What he promised, he delivered

I am saved by the hand of sweet release.

In this war I’ve been a captive,
Just a sinner seeking life and liberty.
But these hands that hold me tightly
Are the hands that set my shackled spirit free.
Blessed Jesus, meek and lowly,
You have come into my life and made it new,
Now I’m new.
Out of bondage into everlasting light,
I owe everything to you.

Words by Suzanne Jennings. Music by Guy Penrod and Michael Sykes. ©1998 Townsend and Warbucks Music and Saddlebred Music (adm. by Gaither Copyright Management) Mal N’ Al Music (adm. by ICG)/ASCAP. All rights reserved.

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