The Family Life Today radio show once featured an author named Ace Collins who wrote a historical book about Christmas carols. One traditional carol they talked about was the song, “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.”
Before that day, the first line of that song never made sense to me. The title, “God rest ye, merry gentlemen,” seemed too old-school-English to understand. Was it encouraging us to sleep happily? I just didn’t get it. I’m excited to share with you that the scales have fallen from my eyes! What I learned about this song is really cool, and I think you are going to find it fascinating as well.
Ace explained to the listeners that he had dug through a bunch of English texts from the 1500s and 1600s. One of the first things he learned about this carol was that the comma in our modern day version is actually misplaced in the title. It’s not “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.” It’s supposed to read, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”
While that information alone might not seem to make a difference, this next bit of information will bring the main point home. His research revealed that back in the day this song was written the word “rest” actually meant “make” or “keep.” And the word “merry” actually meant “mighty” or “great.”
So…if we put that all together – in a modern translation – it would sing:
“God make you mighty, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay.
Remember Christ our Savior 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.”
If you would allow me the freedom, I’d like to translate this even further. Call it the Gwen Smith Revised Edition. This is powerful:
“God make you mighty, girlfriend! Do not be upset, discouraged, or frightened!
Jesus came to earth to take our brokenness and sin
So that we could be made beautiful and whole in Him!
This is great news, which should bring you comfort and joy! Rejoice!”
Have a mighty Christmas!
Have a powerful Christmas!
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11, NIV)
Our hope is alive because 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ left His throne in heaven, was born of innocence, lived a perfect life, suffered and died for our sin, and defeated death in when He rose from the grave. This is surely “good news of great joy!” (Luke 2:10)
Celebrate Christmas this year in His strength, in His peace, and in His joy.
God make you mighty, girlfriend!
Lord, You are mighty and powerful. No matter what I face, I want to walk in Your might instead of my weakness. Help me to remember that Your Word says: “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) In Jesus’ name, amen.
From my heart to yours, may you have a blessed, mighty, and merry Christmas!
Be safe in your travels, quick to forgive, and generous in love.
Warmly in Grace,
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE:
What do you need to be mighty in this Christmas season? Forgiveness? Grace? Understanding? Patience? Is there something that is causing you to be fearful, discouraged, or upset?
PRAY about it right now and ask God for His strength to meet you in your weakness. Then CLICK HERE to share a prayer need or a Scripture verse that might encourage others. Pray for the other needs posted or simply leave a comment declaring, “Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world!”