Friday, December 11, 2020

Sing Christmas Dec 11

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
Was born upon this 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!

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.

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,
Whereat this infant lay,
They found him in a manger
Where oxen fed on hay;
His mother Mary, kneeling,
Unto the Lord did pray.

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace.
The holy tide of Christmas
All others doth efface.

Traditional - probably 18th Century

The meaning of this carol hangs on a single comma. The first line isn’t “God rest you, merry gentlemen”, but “God rest you merry, gentlemen”. It isn’t a plea that merry gentlemen should get some peace, but a prayer that they (and gentlewomen too!) should “rest merry” – “rest assured” might be the nearest modern phrase to this. It celebrates “tidings of comfort [meaning strength] and joy”, and unpacks those tidings in the rest of the carol. These are ordinary shepherds, isolated out on the hillside, the last to hear any news that circulated in more populated areas, yet this time, the news of Christ’s birth comes to them first. And it is good news; God has come into their perilous lives, lives in which they often have to deal with “tempest, storm and wind”, and have probably often felt they have “gone astray” or are under “Satan’s power”. In the final verse, the singers of the carol encourage each other to find and to show God’s love to one another so that they can all find good news to sustain them.

·         What is the most dangerous situation you have been in? What happened and how did you deal with it?How did others help you?
·         What are the “tidings of comfort and joy” for you in the nativity story?

Bible Reading:  If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2.1


  1. One of my favourite carols. I am more famiar with the lyric "deface" rather than "efface."

    1. Hmm... Efface means to overwrite or erase, as in "self-effacing". Deface means to destroy or damage or mutilate. I can't help thinking that efface is the more likely word here. I can see why the author might want to say that Christmas had become the season which "effaced" other seasons, outshining them or overwhelming them, whether we think it should or not, but not why it would "deface" - damage, mutilate - other seasons.