Comfort and Joy in the King – God Rest You Merry Gentlemen

Keep your joy strong with wisdom from Proverbial Thought!

It is Christmas Eve! Tomorrow we celebrate God stepping into the time to redeem His Creation. There is no better explanation of that act than today’s song.

It is at least 300 years old and may be older than that. I have not been able to find verifiable information, but I have heard that it was written by a priest who was concerned with how much of the gospel message the average person actually knew. Therefore, he put the lyrics to a tune that could be heard in many pubs.

The earliest publication of the song was in 1833 by William Sandys, and one of my favorite stories, from 1843, used it: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

God rest you merry, gentlemen.
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember, Christ our Savior
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

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

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.
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
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan’s power and might.”
O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

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
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Savior lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
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 with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Why I like this carol …

My first liking is that it tells the birth story of Jesus. It reminds us of the hope we have in His life and death, that He came “to save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray.”

My second liking comes from the title, which really means “God keep/make you joyful/content/hopeful/happy, people of God”. That is some paraphrasing on my part, but it is based on literal meanings of the words “rest” and “merry”.

This song is a reminder that God did not wait for us to achieve the impossible or seek Him out. He came to us, He redeemed us with His own life and blood, and He will return to redeem all of Creation. We should be joyful and hopeful knowing that our Lord wins and has won. He came and will come again!

Merry Christmas – Almost literally, “Joy comes from Christ’s suffering.”

Remember that is what “Merry Christmas” means, for the Christ-Mass, is the remembrance that Jesus Christ was born that He may die to bring us second birth … and He will come again!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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