God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, the Song and the Story

The Composer of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is Unknown

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The composer of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is unknown. There is record of it being sung within the Christian Church since the 15th century. The hymn was first put into print for the general public when William B. Sandy included a version of it in his publication Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833). It was subsequently added to various hymnals and carol books. In 1843 Charles Dickens included the song in his famous novel A Christmas Carol. Everybody's favorite villian, Ebenezer Scrooge showed a depth of his sad self in this paragraph from Dicken's classic:
“...at the first sound of 'God bless you merry, gentlemen, May nothing you dismay!" Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.

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Several different versions of the song have emerged over the years. The following are nine of the most common verses in circulation today.

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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
God rest ye 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.

Refrain:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

In Bethlehem, in Israel, this bless'd Babe was born,
And laid within a manger upon this bless'd morn;
The which His mother Mary did nothing take in scorn.

Refrain

From God our heavenly Father a bless'd angel came;
And unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name.

Refrain

'Fear not, then,' said the angel, 'Let nothing you afright
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.'

Refrain

The shepherds at those tidings rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding in tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethl'em straightaway this bless'd Babe to find.

Refrain

But when to Bethlehem they came where our dear Savior lay,
They found Him in a manger where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling unto the Lord did pray.

Refrain

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 others doth deface.

Refrain

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.

Final Refrain:

That God send you a happy new year, happy new year,
And God send you a happy new year.

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Written by: Connie Ruth Christiansen