Today is the final installment of our Christmas sheet music blog series, and we’re ending with a bang. I really like God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman because it’s got this intensity that many Christmas songs don’t have, and that can be fun. It’s got some drive and oomph.
The other Christmas music in the series:
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Sheet Music
Just as with the sheet music arrangements for Away in a Manger and Deck the Halls, I’m giving you two options here today. The first arrangement is just treble clef and chords, leaving room for you to invent your own arrangement The second one is fully arranged, with the bass clef filled in and a little bit of voicing added to the treble clef. Choose your own adventure!
Harmonizing the melody
Just as we discussed in the Introduction to Harmony video, we harmonize this melody mainly with thirds and sixths because it sounds good. If I were to try to harmonize that with 4ths or 5ths, it’ll get very ugly, very fast (at least in my opinion). If you want to simplify this arrangement, feel free to leave out the lower notes and simply play the top notes, which is the melody.
Two parts in the bass clef
In the bass clef, you’ve got this whole note on top, and then these lower bass notes with stems going the wrong way. This is telling us two things. First, you need to keep the whole note pressed down the entire bar (4 beats), while tapping the lower left hand note on the quarter beat.
Second, it’s a way of indicating two independent parts on the piano. Most arrangements we’ve played are two-voiced – there’s a right hand part, and a left hand part. This arrangement can be interpreted as three-voiced. You’ve got the treble clef part as per normal, but the bass clef is divided into two parts – the top whole note part, and the lower bass beat part.
As you get into more complex music, you’ll notice composers do this a lot – add more lines than just two to create depth.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen details
A couple more details to look at – first, song form. We’ve got a first ending, a second ending, and a third ending. The second ending wasn’t marked, so mind the human error. When you play up to the repeat dots at the end of the 1st bracket, you play a second time – and do the same thing. The third time you play the song, you skip the “1” bracket entirely and jump over to the “3” bracket.
Allegro is Italian for fast.
The key signature of this song has 1 sharp. What scale has 1 sharp? Clue: G major scale. Or is it? If you look at the beginning of the piece, you’ll notice the first LH note is an E, and the right hand goes from E to B. There ain’t any Es in a G major chord! This is, however, consistent with G major’s dark twin, E minor. So this piece, by looking at the start and finish, is in the key of E minor, which helps give it that extra intensity.
I hope you have fun with this God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen sheet music arrangement, and have a great Christmas holiday!