“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”

God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray:

O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

Merry is a word that has gradually changed meaning over the centuries. Wikipedia has this explanation from the Oxford English Dictionary:

“The historic meaning of the phrase God rest you merry is ‘may God grant you peace and happiness’; the Oxford English Dictionary records uses of this phrase from 1534 onwards.”1

As for the comma? In the post title it’s in the right place, but not in the sketch. Merry doesn’t describe the gentle­men, it describes what the carol wants you to know: “May God grant you peace and happiness, gentlemen.”2

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 2:13–14

From God our heav’nly Father
a blessed angel came
and unto certain shepherds
brought tidings of the same,
how that in Bethlehem was born
the son of God by name.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

“Fear not,” then said the angel,
“let nothing you affright;
this day is born a Savior,
the true and radiant light,
to free all those who trust in him
from Satan’s pow’r and might.”

O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

Now to the Lord sing praises,
all you within this place,
and in true love and fellowship
each other now embrace;
this holy tide of Christmas
is filled with heav’nly grace.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Luke 9:10

O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!


Image: God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen: T. Dalziel, Illustrator, Christmas Carols New and Old, compiled by Rev. H. R. Bramley,
Lyrics from Hymnary.org: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.
1,2God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen: Wikipedia.

Copyright ©2012–2021Iwana Carpenter

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