Believe it or not, this particular carol has been around since at least the 16th century. It is known as the Tidings of Comfort and Joy song. The earliest printing of this particular carol can be traced to a broadsheet that was printed in 1760. In the mid 18th century, it became known as The Christmas Carol, and that made it a standard any time there was caroling. Dickens mentions it in A Christmas Carol. As soon as the singer mentioned “May nothing you dismay” Scrooge sent the singer fleeing in terror.
The original version goes like this:
Note the comma after merry. The original intent was: God keep you bountiful, Gentlemen. Rest was keep and merry was bountiful.
The song has had a few revisions over the years, but for the most part, the one that we sing is fairly close to the original. Although, there was a 7 verse version in the 1880s. Overachievers.
No matter how many verses we sing, it’s a catchy little tune that still symbolizes the coming of the holidays.
Sing and shop!
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