God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Composer
trad.
Year of composition
1833
Arranger
Difficulty
Easy (Grades 1-3)
Duration
2 minutes
Genre
Other
Instrumentation
String quartet
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Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the familiar Christmas carol is the confusion surrounding the punctuation of its title. Is the song, which originated in England in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, properly "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," "God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen," "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen," or some other permutation? Journalist/music critic Harold Schonberg devoted an entire article to the subject in 1971, tracing the work's history through a myriad of nineteenth-century editions. Citing an 1893 reprint (which itself might have introduced an error) of the earliest known source of the words, a broadsheet in the Roxburghe Collection of the British Museum, Schonberg determined that the original was "God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen" – a title whose evocations of cheer and fellowship belie the traditionally somber associations of the work's aeolian (natural minor) modality.

This arrangement comes with a Beginners' third violin part, and an optional bass part for use with string orchestra.

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