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God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

     Like a lot players, I have ambivalent feelings about Christmas music this time of year.  You enter the season with a whole new repertoire to play, which is refreshing, and much of this repertoire differs musically from the standard fare: carols and hymns, tunes in minor keys, unusual structures, quaintly archaic texts (let nothing you dismay!) and so on.
      A week or so of this nonstop, though, and you’re pretty much surfeited.  That said, I still find Christmas music evocative and nostalgic.  This was the music that first drew me to the piano before I ever had a lesson, trying to bang out Jingle Bells or Adeste Fidelis by ear.

     With so many weeks playing the same fare, I have a lot of time to experiment with various styles and chords.  God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen has always been a favorite of mine.  To my ear, it lends itself to a sort of baroque treatment and also, by extension, to a jazz feel, since baroque music and jazz have so much in common.

     This is an elaboration of an arrangement I wrote for an a capella group I sang with in college and shows how easily I am torn between jazz and classical approaches to a lot of this music.  (I say "elaboration", though, if memory serves, there were four vocal parts and this has only three voices: flute, clarinet and bass.  I think three’s enough though.) 

     Finally, my friend, Rune the erstwhile printer, will be happy to note that I included the comma in the title.  Frequently misprinted, the title is actually direct address, as in, God keep you merry, gentlemen.   Pace, Lynn Truss.  And pace to the rest of you as well!  Click on the title in red to hear it.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen 

God rest ye merry, gentleman

Let nothing you dismay.

Remember Christ our saviour

Was born on Christmas day.

To save us all from satan’s power

When we were gone astray.

O, tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy.

O, tidings of comfort and joy.


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