Wednesday, December 2, 2009

God Rest You Merry

God rest you merry, 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
This, of course, is from that hearty old English carol, “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen.” It speaks not only of comfort, but also of joy and merriment, just as the Gospel does, the good news that King Jesus has come into the world.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah brought God’s promise of comfort for His people, comfort that would be fulfilled through the Messiah, the Anointed (see Christmas in Isaiah):
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
Says your God.
“Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned.”
(Isaiah 40:1-2)
In verse 11, he speaks of God coming to them as a tender shepherd:
He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.
David knew Him as “The LORD My Shepherd” and drew great comfort from the assurance that His rod and staff were always present to protect and guide (Psalm 23:1, 4). In the New Testament, He is revealed in King Jesus the Messiah, who said of Himself, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

Comfort.

But also great joy. On the night of Jesus’ birth, the angels announced to shepherds in a nearby field “good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10). The shepherds came glorifying and praising God for this marvelous news (v. 20). Likewise, when the wise men, seeing that the star which guided them on their quest came to its rest over the place where the young Child was, they “rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:10) — joy without limit.
From God our heavenly Father
The blessed angels came
And unto certain shepherds
With tidings of the same
How that was born in Bethlehem
The Son of God by name
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy
The apostle Paul spoke of the kingdom of God, the one Jesus announced was now present in the world, the one over which Jesus now ruled and reigned at the right hand of the Father, as a kingdom of joy: “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). And he offered this benediction: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

The apostle John, who experienced firsthand the joy of knowing King Jesus in His earthly ministry, said:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
Not only because Jesus has rescued us from satan’s power — and indeed, as John notes, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8) — but more than that, because it is in Jesus the Messiah that we have fellowship with God.

Now, this is indeed cause for comfort, joy, and merriment. It is the greatest news we could ever receive, and the third verse of this old carol shows us how to celebrate it:
Now to the Lord sing praises
All those within this place
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy
God rest you merry in this Advent and Christmas season.

You can listen to a bit of this carol as well as the other songs from our Christmas album here.

He Come from the Glory:
A Walking Barefoot Christmas


Available at Amazon for immediate download in MP3. You can also order it as a CD.

We have also put together a little PDF booklet with song lyrics and CD info, which you can download here.