This year, at the last minute, The Man begged off attending the Midnight Service on Christmas Eve. Instead we trooped off Christmas morning at 10.30 for the Family Service. It began with the well-known old carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. It's not my favourite of the traditional carols -- partly because it never made much sense to me. In my imagination I pictured a Dickensian scene of jolly, red-faced and rather rotund gentlemen with beer mugs in their hands enjoying themselves on Christmas Eve -- rather 'Ho, Ho, Ho,' for a church service -- or so I thought. But that was before I heard the Vicar's sermon for Christmas morning!
He pointed out that in the first line of the carol -- one of the oldest -- there is a comma after the word 'merry'. As long as I have been singing that carol, I had never noticed that. It means that it's not at all about 'merry gentlemen', but that we should 'rest joyful' that 'Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas Day.
It's still not one of my favourite carols, but I can't quite get over the difference that a comma can make! I hope you have all had a very Merry Christmas and send my very best wishes for a very happy New Year 2014.