Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Christmas Carol Miscellanea

No doubt he most important Christmas carol miscellanea is that Joy to the World is about the second advent, not the first. That is, it's not a Christmas song at all. (It's a nice postmillennialist hymn, if you ask me. Which you didn't. I'm just saying.)

But the one to discuss today is, sans punctuation, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. There is, apparently, a long-standing heated debate about where the comma belongs in the title. Is it:
A) God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
B) God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
The correct answer is A. (The answer is always A.) In contemporary English rest meant keep as in maintain. So the title can be paraphrased: God keep you merry, gentlemen. Not God keep you, merry gentleman. For these and all men their merriment, as it were, rested on God's sovereignty, as do all things.

Only a Pelagian would place the comma in the blasphemous position indicated by choice B.

Okay, all kidding aside, it really does belong as in choice A, for the reason I mentioned, before I got silly. Or kind of silly.

1 comment:

  1. It seems that in the 1st line "ye" and "you" are often exchanged. A few minutes of research has brought up more results with "you", but I, for one, had always thought "ye" was the more common. According to earliest documents, "you" was 1st used.