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The beloved Christmas carol “God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen” ends each verse with the repeated phrase “O tidings of comfort and joy.” Ease and happiness are certainly welcome at Christmastime. But what if there is more to this line of verse than is apparent in the song?

Sometimes there is a depth of meaning to our words of worship that goes under-appreciated. The word ‘comfort’ is one of those words with a depth worthy of being explored. Before the word meant something like ease, prosperity, and pleasure, the word comfort meant “to strengthen.” Con-fortis from the Latin means “to make strong”—to fortify.

How might hearing the carol with this meaning of comfort change the hymn for you? What would it mean if this hymn seeks to grant us courage rather than ease?

Learn About Christmas at Saint Barnabas

In the mood for some holiday music? Scroll Down!

Music by the Saint Barnabas Choir.

Directed by Robert Heyde

Music by the Saint Barnabas Choir.

Directed by Robert Heyde. Click here to learn more about Music at Saint Barnabas.

[1] There are no fewer than seven Christian feast days from the beginning of Advent to the end of the twelve days of Christmas, hence, “holiday season.”

About Saint Barnabas

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