Today’s song is, ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’. This an English traditional Christmas carol. It is in the ‘Roxburghe Collection’ (iii. 452) and is listed as no. 394 in the ‘Roud Folk Song Index’. It is also known as ‘Tidings of Comfort and Joy as well as’ God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’; ‘God Rest Ye, Merry Christians’, or ‘God Rest You Merry People All’.
It is one of the oldest extant carols, dated to the 16th century or earlier. The earliest known printed edition of the carol is in a broadsheet dated to c. 1760. The carol is referred to by Charles Dickens in his 1843 publication of ‘A Christmas Carol’ when he writes "... at the first sound of 'God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!'."
When I think back, I often amaze myself at the sheer amount of work and completed tasks any happy and healthy person can do in their prime of life. For a man, it is certainly in their late thirties when they hit their pinnacle of fitness. At their prime, men and women can parent children, run a home like clockwork, hold down a job, party hard with friends and neighbours, and even find time to engage in extra activities and sports that energise, relax and entertain them. If they have any time left, they might even contribute to the community by being a member of some school or church committee that meets weekly.
Their evenings are blissful and operate like clockwork. Around 7:00 pm after the family have eaten together and have told each other how their day has gone, the children are put to bed and are read their favourite bedtime stories. After they are settled down for the night, the married couple smooze and snuggle the rest of the evening away in front of the fire with a glass of wine that sparkles and reflects the glint of marital lust in each other’s eyes. After an hour or so lovemaking in front of the fire, around 10:00 pm they decide to take their lovemaking up to their bedroom, where they continue as though they’d never experienced coitus interruptus as they climbed the stairs. The couple makes love until well past midnight; when sheer pleasurable exertion sends both immediately off to sleep. The couple sleep like logs and when they awake all bushy-tailed and bright-eyed the next morning, the couple smile and kiss each other and either start cuddling and mucking about all over again or leap out of bed ready and eager to start another refreshing day, all over again. This is how the happily married couple glides on day by day between the honeymoon period and their first ten years of marital bliss. Isn’t it?
“If only?” I hear you think. If this is what one is supposed to experience after walking down the aisle, then I’ve been missing out more than I ever imagined. I’d better place that romantic novel I’ve been reading back on the bookshelf and come back to earth.
Yes! I’m sure that all of the above pleasurable activities were experienced by me, but never in one day of my life; not in a month of Sundays! I have probably encountered every one of these experiences with a loving woman, but never in the same day and spread over the past fifty years of my life with different women, who have borne me children!
I am now 77 years old, and one of the greatest pleasures I daily enjoy is an afternoon nap in front of the fire. From getting up on a morning until 3:00 pm each day I keep my mind active reading, writing, composing, answering computer messages and engaged in two hours’ a day singing practice. Around 3:00 pm I go upstairs to the lounge (we live in an old house with three levels). In the lounge, I start up a big open fire, have a ground coffee with cream and one of Sheila’s special sandwiches. By 4:00 pm, Sheila will usually find me napping in my favourite chair. It may only be five minutes or half an hour tops that I nod off for, but it is now a regular occurrence.
Sometimes I’ll ask Sheila, “Did I nod off, love?” and she will warmly smile and confirm that I was having ’40 winks’. What she doesn’t confirm, however, is that while my eyes were firmly closed that she didn’t stand in front of me and pull faces at me or utter some obscenity under her breath as to what she really thinks about me! These are the things I might have done as a child to some poor unsuspecting adult, ‘just because I could’. Who knows what wicked thoughts lie in the dark recesses of one’s childlike mind, especially the mind of a mischievous woman wanting to get one up on you?
‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’ and ladies too. Sheila and I wish all our family, friends and neighbours a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Love and Peace Bill and Sheila xxx