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> Maddy Prior > Songs > God Rest You Merry Gentlemen

God Rest You Merry Gentlemen / Somerset Carol

[ Roud 394 ; Ballad Index FSWB378A , FSWB377B ; Bodleian Roud 394 ; Wiltshire 321 ; trad.]

Ewan MacColl and carolers, Charlie Bate and group, The Brian Newey Skiffle Group, and a Birmingham studio group respectively sang God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen at the live Christmas Day 1957 broadcast on BBC Radio, Sing Christmas and the Turn of the Year.

Martin Carthy and Martyn Wyndham-Read sang God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen in 1986 on the Greenwich Village album Yuletracks.

Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band sang God Rest You Merry Gentlemen in 1987 on their Saydisc album A Tapestry of Carols and live at Oxford Town Hall on their 2005 CD and DVD An Evening of Carols and Capers.

The Albion Christmas Band sang the related Somerset Carol in 2006 on their CD Wintersongs and in 2009 on their CD Traditional.

Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker sang God Rest You Merry Gentlemen in 2013 on their CD Midwinter.

Emily Smith sang God Rest You Merry Gentlemen in 2015 on her CD Songs for Christmas.

Jon Wilks sang God Rest You Merry Gentlemen on a 2020 download single and on his 2021 album Up the Cut. He noted:

I found this broadside version of the well-known carol on the Broadside Ballads website. Printed by D. Wrighton at 86 Snow Hill, Birmingham, sometime between 1812-30, it contains lyrics I don't recognise from my school days. Throwing down Satan wasn't a major part of Yuletide festivities in 1980s Solihull, as far as I recall.

As soon as I realised this album was likely to be out in time for winter, I knew I had to include a recording of this song. Sure, it's a bit cheesy to do a Christmas song, but I feel it's something of a Midlands tradition. If Slade can do it, then I'll have a bash, too. This one's for Noddy. Oi, oi.

Lyrics

Maddy Prior sings God Rest You Merry Gentlemen

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this day,
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray;

Chorus (after each verse):
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

In Bethlehem in Jewry
this placid babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The Virgin mother Mary
Did nothing taking scorn,

From God our Heavenly 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:

“Fear not,” then said the angel,
“Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour,
Of virtue, power, and might;
So frequently to vanish all
The friends of Satan quite”;

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding,
In tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessed babe to find:

But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this infant lay
They found him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling,
Unto the Lord did pray:

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
Is drawing on apace:

Jon Wilks sings God Rest You Merry Gentlemen

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas Day
To save our souls from Satan's thrall
Which long have gone astray

Chorus (after each verse):
This brings tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
This brings tidings of comfort and joy

From him that is our father
A blessed angel came
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same
That there was born in Bethlehem
The son of God by name

Fear nothing said God's angel
Let nothing you affright
This night was born our Saviour
Of a virgin pure and bright
He's able to advise you
And throw down Satan quite

Then these certain shepherds
Rejoiced much in mind
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind
And straight they went to Bethlehem
The son of God to find

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our sweet Saviour lay
They found him in a manger
Where oxen fed on hay
The blessed lady kneeling down
Unto the lord did pray

Let me to you all invite
Who are within this place
To live in love and unity
The gospel to embrace
The merry time of Christmas
Is drawing on a-pace