Out of Rest with ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen!’


A Little Music Lesson Before The Song:

“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is my favorite Christmas song of all time.  Now, I love many Christmas songs with a passion, so, believe me, they get their share of attention.  But this one carol just worked its way into my heart years ago and nestled right down into its own special place.

So … you can imagine how unhappy I was when I heard someone sing it incorrectly. Of course, hearing it sung incorrectly once or twice in a lifetime is not much, and had that been the scope of things, I would not be sharing this little lesson. However, sadly, but truly, during the past dozen years, I can honestly say that every time I have heard the song publicly performed or played via recorded media, every single song artist has sung the song incorrectly — and, what’s worse — every single one of them has made exactly the same mistake!

Wouldn’t you think that a professional singer would want to be careful enough about his work to make sure he was singing the correct words to a song?  I would do that, and I’m not even a professional. But, for some reason, even when recording the song on a CD, or other media, that will last for many generations, these people seem to think that because it’s a ‘Christmas carol’ diligence about the words does not matter.

So what is this mistake, you ask.  It is in the very last verse of the song. The line should read, “This holy tide of Christmas all other doth efface.”  The word ‘efface’ means to rule out or erase something, and it carries the implication of outshining or outdoing something to the point of ruling it out or, in effect, erasing it.  However, every version of the song I’ve heard for years says, “This holy tide of Christmas all other doth deface. Now, the word ‘deface’ means something altogether different. It means to mar, disfigure, or injure something. That’s a pretty sinister act to attribute to Christmas, don’t you think? And I have cringed so hard and gritted my teeth so tightly every time I’ve heard the song performed publicly for the past few years that I came to the place where I would simply turn off the music or the radio when the song began. 

And as if this woeful fact were not bad enough, a couple of years ago I purchased a little book about Christmas carols.  The author had evidently gone to great lengths to dig out scores of popular carols and unearth their histories and any interesting stories connected with them.  He shared them — along with the words of the songs — in this beautiful little book.  But — lo and behold — when I came to my favorite carol . . . .   Yes … you guessed it. He had the words to the last verse wrong! Now, I ask you — is that fair???

However, the author did go on to say that “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is one of the most profound and meaningful carols in the world — primarily because it contains all the high points of the Gospel and reveals some understanding of the power of Jesus Christ and what His arrival meant.  And, to be completely honest, that praise goes a long way in making up for the author’s use of the wrong word in the last stanza.

Nevertheless, I feel it is my duty to right the wrong done to my favorite carol. And since I now have a Christmas blog, I have the perfect opportunity to make sure the entire world knows what the carol “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” REALLY SAYS!  Aaahhhh!  The bliss!  Exposing the defamation of character and righting the wrong, for all the world to see feels wonderful!  It will make my Christmas this year even merrier.

Please enjoy the song with me this year by singing it the way it was intended to be sung:

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 pow’r
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;


“Fear not,” then said the angel,
“Let nothing you affright;
This day is born a Savior,
Of virtue, power, and might;
So frequently to vanquish all
The friends of Satan quite;”


The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a -feeding,
In tempest, storm, and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straight-way
This blessed babe to find;


But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this infant lay,
They found him in a manger,
Where oxen feed 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 other doth efface;

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

A message of good cheer is what we want here. Please don't go away without leaving a Christmas greeting.

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