God Rest Ye Merry

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Psalm 16:11 NIV)


Last Friday, my six year old niece and I spent the afternoon together. She loves to point out women who have “a baby in the belly.” She is very curious about the whole mystery of the how the baby arrives. So I’m not surprised that she enjoys playing with the nativity figurines, especially baby Jesus and Mary. When my sister picked her up, we noticed that Loryn had placed Mary in the manger with Jesus. After they left, I placed everyone back in their proper place.

The next day I read a devotion about Mary’s receptivity to bearing the gift of Jesus in her womb. So I put Mary back on the manger, in that vulnerable position of offering herself to God and her openness to receiving Jesus into her life as pure gift.

As I have mentioned, my journey during this Advent{ure} has been very different than past years. I find myself struggling daily to recapture the “feel” of Christmases past.  Disappointment creeps in, and depression lurks in the corner. I despair over my failure to experience the joy I know is possible this time of year.

Today, I remembered an explanation I once read about the carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. I used to think that the gentleman were merry and really didn’t think about what “God rest ye” meant.

“God rest ye merry” was an old English expression which petitioned God to keep one merry or joyful. (Christopher and Melodie Lane, Christ in the Carols)

When I try to manage my moods or control the merriment of the season, I become dismayed. I lose the joy of the season. My attempts at holiday cheer fizzle out, because my heart is occupied with anxious grabbing for stuff, rather than held open for receiving. I need to climb into the manger, and be still. To let His presence fill me with joy, peace, hope and complete love.

May God keep you merry the rest of this holy season!


Linking with Soli Deo Gloria Party

12 thoughts on “God Rest Ye Merry

  1. O, from the mouth of babes! They are so observant, aren’t they, Kel? And o what a difference the placement of a comma can make. (Don’t get me started on punctuation! 🙂 ) Truly, most people don’t realize that this carol is not talking about “merry gentleman,” but rather the plea that God should “rest us merry.” It’s not “God rest you, merry gentleman,” but “God rest you merry, gentlemen (or gentlewomen).” There is a rest beyond compare (or adequate explanation) when it’s He who rests us, and He can rest us in rest and in joy and in satisfaction, and yes, even in merriment. I love that you will stay still in the manger, until He births you merry. And, of course, manger comes from the French, mangier: to eat. I think so often we rest merry when we feast on Him and His Word. We tend to rest more easily when we are satiated.
    God rest you merry, Kel!

  2. Dear Kel
    I agree with your words that we should crawl into the manger and just become still. I am actually quite sad when I read all the posts of people rushing even more than usual to get everything ready for Christmas. Oh, this should not be.
    Blessings XX

  3. This was the first year that “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” grabbed me. I don’t typically leave a comment with a link to my blog but in reading your post, I felt to share my thoughts on that very same song. May He fill you with His Presence this Christmas in a most special way. So glad that I stopped from Soli Deo Gloria this morning! Merry Christmas!

    1. Merry Christmas, Joanne! It’s a theme, God is calling His people to rest…I love the meaning you discovered that rest means “that which is good, profitable, easy to use or bear (New Testament Lexical Aids).” God is good, oh so good to invite us into His rest! Go rest ye merry!

  4. Thanks Kel,

    I really enjoyed this, I liked the “God rest ye merry” phrase. I will be praying this a lot for myself and give it as a greeting and farewell this Christmas season.

    God rest ye merry too, Kel,


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