“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is one of the carols that was sung by the waits, those municipal watchmen in old England who, like the town criers, were licensed to perform certain duties, such as singing seasonal songs, including those of Christmas, to the proper people. It was first published in 1827 as “an ancient version, sung in the streets of London.” Charles Dickens used it in A Christmas Carol: Ebenezer Scrooge, the rich but miserly curmudgeon, hears it sung jauntily in the street and threatens to hit the singer with a ruler if he does not cease immediately. Fortunately, Scrooge is about to learn the true meaning of Christmas and be made merry — and generous — himself.
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!
In Bethlehem, in Israel, this blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger upon this blessed morn;
The which His Mother Mary did nothing take in scorn.
From God our heav’nly 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.