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2020 Advent Devotional – Day 22

Joy

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
Traditional English carol, 16th century, published c. 1760

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy

Video: God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen


Reflection

This is one of those well-loved carols where we enthusiastically launch into singing the first line, until our voices trail off as we realize just how few of the words we actually know – before returning with gusto for the joyous refrain, “O tidings of comfort and joy!”

It is also a carol where modern punctuation can easily distort the meaning. The comma in the first line follows the word ‘merry’ rather than preceding it. So this is not, contrary to much wishful thinking, a carol exhorting all the “merry gentlemen” to have a rest! Instead, and according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase “God rest you merry” – as it would have been used in the 16th and 17th centuries – means, “May God grant you peace and happiness.”

Peace and happiness, comfort and joy – these phrases represent the essence perhaps of our Christmas wish, and equally the heart of the angel’s message to the shepherds. And this synergy is significant for our Advent worship. The angel’s message to the shepherds, proclaiming “great joy for all the people,” and bestowing “peace to those on whom his favor rests” are gifts from God. Peace and happiness, comfort and joy – these things are God’s desire for us; exactly how God wants us to live.

What more encouragement do we need, then, to seek them out? To begin each day and recommit to finding and creating peace in our communities? To recognizing in every person we encounter, the love of God that provides acceptance and brings joy? For what greater joy is there, than the knowledge that we are each a child of God.

Comfort and joy are not just sentimental Christmas lyrics; they are God’s gift to us year-round. And more, they are God’s calling to us, to be created in and shared from our lives.


Comforting God,
Your love brings me deep joy. The comfort of knowing I am always loved and cared for by you; the peace of knowing you listen to me when I pray; the joy of knowing you are present in my life and in the world. Encourage me to recognize these gifts in my daily life. Inspire me to proclaim these gifts of your love through my life and share your love with those around me. Amen.


Reading

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen 

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 pow’r
when we were gone astray; 

 Refrain:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy. 

 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, [Refrain] 

 “Fear not, then,” said the angel,
“let nothing you affright;
this day is born a Savior
of a pure virgin bright,
to free all those who trust in him
from Satan’s pow’r and might.” [Refrain] 

 Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
Shall fill our hearts with grace [Refrain] 

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 pow’r
when we were gone astray;

Refrain:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

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, [Refrain]

“Fear not, then,” said the angel,
“let nothing you affright;
this day is born a Savior
of a pure virgin bright,
to free all those who trust in him
from Satan’s pow’r and might.” [Refrain]

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
Shall fill our hearts with grace [Refrain]


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.


 

Joy

Joy to the World! Ding Dong Merrily on High! Hark, the Herald Angels Sing! At this time of year, we sing about joy a lot, but how often do you stop to notice and value the joy in your life? God wants us to bring our care and concerns to him so that we can receive his peace, and thereby be freed to rejoice. 


Dear Lord, joyous God,
As we bring our concerns and requests to you, help us shed our worries so that we can better know your peace. Give us glad hearts and joyful minds, to radiate your love and good news to all we meet.
Amen.

Matthew 3: 1-3, 11

22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.”