Luke 2:10-11 (ESV)
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
If you never thought a comma could be confusing, then think again! Shouldn't the comma in this song title come after "you" instead of "merry"? That would be true, except that sometimes words can change meanings over time. For example, "cool" used to mean "sorta cold" but now it can also mean "awesome" or even "unfriendly." Similarly, the word "rest" used to mean "keep" and "merry" is another way to say "joyful," so the title of this carol really means something like "Gentlemen, may God keep you all joyful." Although nobody is sure who wrote this song, the way it was written makes it sound older than it probably is. Since it was printed in 1833, people have changed a few words here and there to make the song sound better until we have what we sing today.
"God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" reminds us that nothing should steal our joy because we know that God sent his Son to be born as a child who would save us from Satan's power. It then recounts the story of angels appearing to the shepherds announcing the birth of Christ and telling them to search for the Savior who would "vanquish all the friends of Satan" (that means all the sin and bad guys). With news like that, the shepherds rejoiced, left their sheep, and "went to Bethlehem straightway." When they arrived, they saw Jesus in a manger with his mother Mary kneeling at his side, and they began to worship him. The carol ends by calling us to sing praises to the Lord and to embrace each other "with true love and brotherhood," remembering that the true meaning of Christmas outshines all other worries and brings us lasting comfort and joy.
Dear Lord, we thank You that Your birth out shines any other story. Thank You for bringing love to us that first Christmas day. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
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