"...in the beginning was the word..."

Words: Anonymous 16th century traditional English carol
Music: Sir John Stainer

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ, our Saviour,
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 Jewry,
This blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger,
Upon this blessed morn;
That 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 Saviour
Of 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 Saviour 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.

One of the most popular English carols is God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." It's interesting to notice that the comma after Merry" is often misplaced, causing it to read God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen." Yet the original punctuation helps to indicate that the song is for all gentlemen to one and all whether merry or not, with the hope and blessing that God will cause them to be merry. The origin of the carol is still a mystery; some believe it is from Cornwall, England. There are several different versions, some of which go back to the 16th century. Even though written ten in a minor key, this song expresses Christmas joy, and is happy and triumphant. With music written by Sir John Stainer, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" was usually the first carol heard on the streets of London at Christmas time.

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