Jesus is the Light • Devotion #4: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” has gone by several names:

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Come All You Worthy Gentlemen

God Rest Ye, Merry Christians

God Rest You Merry People All

You might remember that this carol is mentioned in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), “… 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.” This is clearly a Christmas classic with some valuable lessons to remind us of what is important.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” actually has seven verses. The carol is scripturally sound as it refers to Bethlehem, Mary, and a manger in verse two. Verse three has the angels coming to the shepherds. The story continues with the fear that is experienced by the shepherds to then being astounded that a Virgin gave birth (verse four). The shepherds leave immediately (verse five) and come to Bethlehem where they find Mary and the babe (verse six). The carol’s last verse closes the celebration encouraging all to sing praises.

I appreciate that the title “Saviour” is used three times in this carol. He is the central figure of the story and that title is the central message!

You probably are ready and able to sing all of verse one:

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

I find it funny that we keep saying “comfort and joy” when I realize not much of Jesus’ life was experienced in the area of comfort. I do not think Joseph and Mary were extremely comfortable that first night. However, that is a message for another time.

One phrase jumped out at me – “To save us all from Satan’s power.” This phrase is also found in verse four. This is the Gospel message. Due to our sin, Satan controls us as we are headed to be with him forever. Jesus steps into our world to “save us all from Satan’s power.” Jesus was born to die. He came to earth to die for our sins that by His grace and through our faith we could be saved. The story is all about Jesus and the battle that continues all around us and in us.

Remember, Ebenezer Scrooge is not the only one who says “Bah humbug” at Christmas time. Satan realizes the battle has been brought to him and it does not look good.

“The God of peace

will soon crush Satan under your feet.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Romans 16:20

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