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Song of the Week: ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’

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Also known as “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and “God Rest You Merry People All,” this song of the week is a traditional Christmas carol. Although the original composer of the song is unknown, it was first published in 1833 by William B. Sandys. “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen” is cited in Charles Dicken’s novel A Christmas Carol.

The lyrics speak to humanity’s eternal war with evil, warding off “Satan’s power.” It notes that Christmas is the day that the Savior is born, and thus it is a day of rest from the eternal battle, a day of “comfort and joy.” It is also a day to recharge for the battle that awaits, so that “nothing you dismay,” for Christ is with you in the struggle. Some scholars believe that the word “merry” is an archaic usage that means “mighty.” However, this usage is not cited in any dictionary, including the Oxford English Dictionary.

The video that accompanies this short article is a performance of “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen” by the mighty one himself, Ronnie James Dio. Dio is accompanied in his performance by Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, Dio and Ozzy (among others) bassist Rudy Sarzo, and AC/DC and Dio drummer Simon Wright.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 2014 to all!

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