“Before the Starry Universe” is a new advent hymn from LNW Hymns, to the tune of “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen.” The author, Ken Bible, describes his project as providing ” new texts for familiar Christmas tunes that have no accessible Christian text.”
I’m not sure that “God Rest Ye” is all that inaccessible. You can hear Barenaked Ladies ragging it up, Loreena McKennitt with fiddle and drums, Jars of Clay madly scooping, Chanticleer starting out very traditional and getting fancy, or MercyMe with heavy percussion. If you want to buy a recording, you can have Bing Crosby, Manheim Steamroller, Rascal Flatts — the hard part is finding some genre of music that has never produced a recording of this song.
Let’s look at it more closely:
“God rest you merry, gentlemen” — okay, lots of people think that this line is suggesting that some happy guys take a rest, rather than expressing a general hope that God will keep the listeners (assumed to be gentlemen, since the women would be at home) happy.
“Let nothing you dismay” — odd word order for us nowadays, but I bet most people get this line.
“Remember, Christ our savior was born on Christmas day” — pretty clear.
“To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray” — most people don’t believe in Satan or feel that they’ve gone astray, but this line also seems clear.
“O tidings of comfort and joy.” — Pretty clear.
We then get the story of angels and shepherds that we all know.
“Before the Starry Universe” has the story of human turning away from God and God’s sending Christ to bring people back to Him, with this refrain:
Praise God for the wonder of His love,
Praise God for the wonder of His love!
So if you like the tune of “God Rest Ye…” and would like something less 18th century in the way of words, you’re set.
I had a lively workday yesterday, with a new job coming up and lots of current projects to work on, so no complaints from me. I was supposed to go caroling last night, but didn’t. Instead I tried to get some progress on #2 son’s sweater, which is supposed to be finished for Christmas. This may not happen.