144. In the Bleak Midwinter

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1 In the bleak midwinter,
frosty wind made moan;
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
snow had fallen,
snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

2 Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away
when he comes to reign:
in the bleak midwinter
a stable place sufficed
the Lord God incarnate, Jesus Christ.

3 Angels and archangels
may have gathered there;
cherubim and seraphim
thronged the air;
but his mother only,
in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

4 What can I give him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

Text Information
First Line: In the bleak midwinter
Title: In the Bleak Midwinter
Author: Christina Rossetti (1872 c., alt.)
Publication Date: 2013
Meter: Irregular
Scripture: 1 Kings 8:27; Proverbs 23:26; Matthew 2:11; Luke 2:8-14
Topic: Christian Year: Nativity/Christmas; Christian Year: Epiphany; Jesus Christ: Birth
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: CRANHAM
Composer: Gustav Holst (1906)
Meter: Irregular
Key: F Major or modal


Text Information:

Though this text describes winter weather in England rather than in Palestine, the poet is using familiar surroundings as a means of making the Nativity more immediate and personal. The tune name honors a Gloucestershire village near the composer’s birthplace in Cheltenham.


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Audio recording: Audio (MP3)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.




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