God rest ye 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. Oh tidings of comfort and joy…
This classic English carol likely dates back to before the sixteenth century. However, the earliest known record we have of it comes from the eighteenth. In its minor key, the melody draws our minds to the days of yore and Christmases long past as it offers us promises of comfort and joy no matter the circumstances.
Unfortunately, for many of us in the throes of difficult situations, this may not be a message we may feel ready to hear. Though we know that God is present and Christ carries us through all things, in the midst of the reality of life’s messiness – the deep shadows of this world – sometimes the waves of despair can feel too overwhelming.
Yet, minor keys always help in those situations.
And when we are ready, the final lyrics of this hymn offer a power to them like no other: this holy tide of Christmas all others doth deface. There is nothing more powerful than God’s love. Not despair. Not tragedy. Not devastation. Not destitution. Not oppression. Not even death.
But here’s the clincher – we are meant to be a part of spreading that love. As the carol sings, with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace. We are the ones who care for the mourning, the troubled, the defeated, the lost, the lonely. Those who are help rebuilt after disaster strike. Who fight hunger and homelessness. And who never forget that it is ours to work to end oppression, too.
God’s tidings of comfort and joy are not only something we sing. They are something we do.