“God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen”, also known as “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”, is an English traditional Christmas carol. The melody is in the minor mode. It was published by William B. Sandys in 1833, although the author is unknown.
Like so many early Christmas songs, the carol was written as a direct reaction to the church music of the 15th century. However, in the earliest known publication of the carol, on a c. 1760 broadsheet, it is described as a “new Christmas carol”, suggesting its origin is actually in the mid-18th century. It appeared again among “new carols for Christmas” in another 18th century source, a chapbook believed to be printed between 1780 and 1800.
It is referred to in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 1843: “…at the first sound of — ‘God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!’— Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.”
The carol exists in a wide variety of versions, some with differing numbers of verses.