God rest you merry, ladies and gentlemen

For quite some time I have truly appreciated the Christmas carol, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  Every year about this time I blog on a specific Christmas carol, and this year I’ve chosen this one.  The reason why I appreciate it is because it not only speaks of events that happened around the birth of Christ, but it also speaks of the ultimate reason why Christ came.  In doing a little research, I was surprised to find out some facts about this carol that I did not know.

For instance, the song is really God Rest You Merry Gentlemen. Many people have substituted the “ye” in modern time to try to make it sound like it had an old-fashioned beginning. It first appeared on the scene in the 1700’s and was formally documented in the 1800’s. This was well after the thee’s and thou’s had been dropped in everyday language. Nobody really knows who the author is, and with so many variations, it was most likely some average person just making up a tune in their head and before you know it, everybody was singing it making up their own version or adding a few lines where they thought necessary. It could have been your average housewife who taught it to her children or some kid out in the field somewhere (or am I supposed to say “laddie” since this is English?) Here is one version that is nine verses long:

God rest you merry, gentlemen,

Let nothing you dismay.

For Jesus Christ our Savior,

Was born on Christmas Day;

To save us all from Satan’s power,

When we were gone astray.

In Bethlehem, in Jury,

This blessed Babe was born,

And laid within a manger,

Upon this blessed morn;

The which His mother Mary

Did nothing take in scorn.

From God our heavenly 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:

Fear not, then said the Angel,

Let nothing you affright,

This day is born a Savior,

Of virtue, power, and might;

So frequently to vanquish all,

The friends of Satan quite;

The shepherds at those tidings,

Rejoiced much in mind,

And left their flocks a feeding,

In tempest, storm, and wind,

And went to Bethlehem straightway,

This blessed Babe to find:

But when to Bethlehem they came,

Whereas this infant lay

They found him in a manger,

Where oxen feed on hay;

His mother Mary kneeling,

Unto the Lord did pray:

With sudden joy and gladness

The shepherds were beguiled,

To see the Babe of Israel,

Before His mother mild,

O then with joy and cheerfulness

Rejoice, each mother’s child.

Now to the Lord sing praises,

All you within this place,

And with true love and brotherhood,

Each other now embrace;

This holy tide of Christmas,

Doth bring redeeming grace.

God bless the ruler of this house,

And send him long to reign,

And many a merry Christmas

May live to see again;

Among your friends and kindred

That live both far and near.


O tidings of comfort and joy,

For Jesus Christ our Savior

Was born on Christmas day.

Earliest versions do not include the full nine verses which probably means that the original composer’s work has been added to. The chorus is supposed to be sung after every verse, but I only printed it at the end to save space. There is a debate as to where the comma is supposed to be placed in the first line, if at all. Most believe it is supposed to be after the “merry”, meaning: God rest you in a merry way, all you gentlemen.

Now in what other Christmas carol do you hear about both Mary and Satan? Here is a song about Christ‘s birth, yet His enemy, Satan, and His mother are both sung about in such a way that you can’t help singing along. Mary is a godly example for us, and I don’t believe this song unduly elevates her. What good would Christ’s birth be without His triumph over Satan? The believer can rejoice that Jesus was born in order to grow into a man and defeat Satan. No other could defeat such a foe but God incarnate.

Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year. So many traditions can point us to Christ. Let us not forget to mention that Christ came to defeat the dark evil prince of this world, Satan. This Christmas, as you see the hurt, pain, anger, sadness, feel free to share the message: God rest you merry, ladies and gentlemen. Let nothing dismay you. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day in order to save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray and were lost in our own sins.

As I was Christmas shopping today, I heard this song in the mall. All throughout the Gentile nations, the name of Jesus is being proclaimed. Surely this is a fulfillment of scripture. We wouldn’t choose on our own to proclaim the message of holy God incarnate were it not for his grace breaking through to us.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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1 Response to God rest you merry, ladies and gentlemen

  1. Pingback: Joy To The World (The LORD Is Come?) | The Orange Mailman

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