Minister’s Message: Be merry, through this season and the next

“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is a hymn most would recognize the tune if not the words

By Rev. Stephen Brown

I like hymns. That may put me in the anachronistic category but I am happy to reside there if that may be. I have a fondness for hymns as I know many by heart and more recently I have taken pleasure in researching out the lives of the authors and history of the hymns themselves. I’ll share a Christmas hymn with you.

It probably wouldn’t make the “top 10” category of most loved Christmas hymns (although Manhiem Steamroller recorded a great modern version in 2004) but it should be familiar to most.

“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is a hymn most would recognize the tune if not the words. Most of us get it a little wrong right off the bat as the title is a little archaic. Notice where the comma in the title lies. This may give you a clue.

The comma is after “Merry,” not “Ye.”

Most of us read the title and the first line of the hymn this way: “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.” Even modern printings of the music make the same mistake. According to Wikipedia, the phrase “God rest you merry” means “may God grant you peace and happiness.”

This phrase was understood this way from the year 1534 onward.

The intent of this Christmas hymn speaks of hope in dark times, which means it speaks to every generation as we all face uncertainties and unknowns from time to time. Has there ever been a generation that did not know the fear of “what is going to happen?”

In its four verses, it outlines the Christmas story from the birth of Christ who brings hope to mankind, to the deliverance of those who put their trust in Him. The refrain between each of the verses “O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy” speak of that hope.

“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” may be antiquated in its form of expression, but the message is timeless. Our prayer for you is that God may rest you merry through this season and the next.

Rev. Stephen Brown and his wife have been the pastors of Kenai New Life Assembly of God for the past 34 years.

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