God rest you merry, gentlemen
God rest you merry, gentlemen. Anonymous, 18th-century British.
This popular carol is described by the editors of The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992) as a ‘luck-visit song’, a carol sung at a visit to a house. This is explicit in the second of the three versions printed in NOBC, in which the final stanza begins ‘God bless the ruler of this house’. The other texts in NOBC are less specific, ending ‘Now to the Lord sing praises,/ All you within this place’; but there are many variants, including one from Cambridgeshire collected by Cecil Sharp* (ed. Karpeles, 1974, II. 352):
God bless the master of this house,
And misteress also,
God bless the little children
All around the table go,
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