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A monthly blog by Rev. Dr George J. Koch, Holy Trinity’s Intentional Interim Pastor during our time of transition. Pastor Koch will provide spiritual leadership for Holy Trinity until the new regularly called Pastor takes office. In his weekly blog, Pastor Koch will discuss his thoughts on the Church Year and upcoming events at Holy Trinity.
The Christmas Carol: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is a throwback to a different era of two hundred some years more ago, an era of horse-drawn carriages, hands warmed over the fireplace, and a mulled cider to warm your stomach on a cold winter’s day. An era of gentlemen and ladies singing carols in the parlor together or wassailing songs of good cheer in the street corners and pubs. In the middle of bleak and cold winters a candle, a fire, a mulled drink were all signs that God’s goodness could break through the deepest gloom. And when people greeted each other with “God rest you merry”, they were really saying “(May) God keep you prosperous’ (in the coming year.”] Shown below are the lyrics to one of the earliest versions of this carol (I have substituted “gentle folk” for gentlemen to make it more inclusive):
1) “God rest you merry, gentle folk, Let nothing you dismay.
Remember Christ our Savior is born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray. Refrain
Refrain: Oh, tidings of Comfort and Joy, Comfort and Joy. Oh, tidings of Comfort and Joy!
2) From God that is our Father, the blessed angels came
Unto some certain shepherds, with tidings of the same;
That he was born in Bethlehem, The Son of God by name. Refrain
3) Now when they came to Bethlehem, Where our sweet Savior lay,
They found him in a manger where oxen feed on hay.
The blessed Virgin kneeling down, unto our Lord did pray. Refrain
4) Now to the Lord sing praises, all you within this place
Like a true loving family, Each other to embrace,
For the merry time of Christmas is coming on a-pace. Refrain
“The merry time of Christmas is coming on a-pace.” These are words of Advent hope. They speak to good news of a great joy that cannot be hushed by the busyness of the season or the external problems that surround our world.
For our Advent midweek services, we will be singing this hymn each Wednesday and listening to lessons from Isaiah which speak to hope and comfort. In this busy season, it is my hope that you “rest merry” with “nothing to dismay,” for to us has come a Savior who has tied us deeply into the love of God and fills us with comfort and Joy. Merry Christmas!