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Re: God rest ye merry, gentlemen

Posted by ESC on November 29, 2004

In Reply to: God rest ye merry gentlemen posted by Word Camel on November 29, 2004

: "God rest ye", what does this mean exactly? "Don't worry?". "Calm down?". Just pondering because I was singing the song and realised I'm not actually sure at all what it means.

Rest assured, someone has written an article about this very question:

"God rest you merry, gentlemen"
by Mark Israel

First of all, "God rest you merry, gentlemen" is correct, not "God rest you, merry gentlemen." The verb "rest" is used here in the way now most familiar from the phrase "rest assured". In earlier English it was used with a variety of
other complements: the OED has "rest thee merry" from 1400; "rest you well" from 1420; "God rest you merry", "rest you
fair", and "rest you happy", and "rest myself content" from Shakespeare; "rest thee tranquil" from Shelley, and "rest thee sure" from Tennyson.

(The rest of the article is at:

http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxgodres.html
Accessed November 29, 2004 )