This is part 1 of a series looking at the theme of hope in Christian hymns and songs. (I hope the series will have more than one part, but don’t assume I have a coherent plan!)

What do Christians hope (expect) to happen in the future?

For Christians whose view of the future is shaped by the Christian Scriptures, their ultimate hope is "the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the [age] to come" (Nicene Creed), or "the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting" (Apostles' Creed). The hope is that Jesus will come back to this earth, and that he will stay here and put everything right, in the "regeneration" (Mt 19:28), when all things will be restored (Acts 3:21) and made new (Rev 21:5), and when "the creation itself will be set free" (Rom 8:21, ESV).

But often in Christian hymns and songs we sing of our hope in totally un-Christian terms, singing about escaping this world and going to heaven for ever, or about Jesus coming back in order to take us away, as though God's plan for the future is that the creation itself will be thrown away, rather than set free. And this really matters. If we want to live worthwhile lives, we need to know what will happen to our works when Jesus returns. If the only thing that will survive the purifying fires of judgement is human souls, then everything is ultimately a pointless waste of time, except evangelism. But if when Jesus returns he will take everything—not only renewed human beings, but also societal structures, agriculture, business, scientific knowledge, technology, poetry, music, or whatever—and incorporate the good aspects of those cultural riches into the renewed creation, then in everything we do we can truly "abound[...] in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord [our] labour is not in vain" (1Cor 15:58, ESV).

Anyway, here's an example of a hymn that, I think, expresses the Christian hope well. It's King of the ages by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty (2002), the final verse in particular. It doesn't say everything, but it does at least focus our attention on the future coming of Christ, helping us to "set [our] hope fully on the grace that will be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pet 1:13, ESV):

The day will come when You appear,
And every eye shall see You.
Then we shall rise with hearts ablaze,
With a song we will sing forever.

It's got a good solid tune too.