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Letters to the Editor: Don’t forget the comma in ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’

The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus sings holiday songs in La Jolla on Dec. 19.
(Elisabeth Frausto / La Jolla Light)

To the editor: Every holiday season, famous pieces of writing are brought forth and honored because of their truth and wisdom. A favorite classic is “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Another is known by the words, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

Years ago, I wrote an essay titled, “Yes, Virginia, there is a dependent clause.” I wrote this in an attempt to correct a chronic punctuational error in one of the carols.

The name of this song is usually rendered, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” but it should be titled, and sung, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”

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You see, the gentlemen are not being invited to rest, as in take it easy. They are being encouraged to rest merry — that is, remain in a state of merriness.

In a trial, when the parties are finished, they will say something like, “The defense rests.” That means the party is prepared to stand by its position.

The same applies when you tell someone to rest assured that you will do something. It does not mean recuperate. It means remain.

I rest my case.

James Farmer, Los Angeles


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