In the bleak midwinterAuthor: Christina Georgina Rossetti (c. 1872)
Published in 70 hymnals
Printable scores: PDF, SibeliusAudio files: MIDI
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 Almighty, 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.
United Methodist Hymnal, 1989
|First Line:||In the bleak midwinter|
|Title:||In the Bleak Midwinter|
|Author:||Christina Georgina Rossetti (c. 1872)|
|Liturgical Use:||Scripture Songs|
|Article:||"In the Bleak Midwinter" by Mary Kay Beall (from The Hymn)|
The January 1872 edition of Scribner's Monthly was the first publication of Christina Rossetti's poem “A Christmas Carol.” The poem was later titled “In the Bleak Midwinter” after the opening line and published as a hymn in the English Hymnal in 1906. The full text has five stanzas, but the original third stanza (beginning “Enough for him”) is often omitted, and a few hymnals use the final stanza alone, titled “What Can I Give Him?”
As many other artists have done, Rossetti depicted the birth of Christ as taking place in a frozen, snowy English winter instead of the milder climate of Palestine where He was actually born. Despite the historical inaccuracy, her text effectively communicates the vast difference between the glory of heaven from which Jesus came and the reality of discomfort on earth, where He would eventually be crucified. The final stanza asks for an appropriate response to Christ's sacrifice of glory, and the answer is “give [him] my heart.”
The only tune to which the complete hymn is sung is CRANHAM by a well-known English composer, Gustav Holst, who composed it for this text. (“What Can I Give Him?” is sometimes sung to another tune.) With a mood well-suited to the text, CRANHAM was first published in the English Hymnal in 1906.
The irregular meter of the text presents difficulties in fitting it to a tune. Holst's melody can be adapted to extra syllables by adding a pickup note to a phrase or dividing the long penultimate note of each phrase. A clear indication from the leader or choir on the placement of syllables should facilitate congregational singing. The tune is best sung in harmony.
This hymn is sung at Christmas. Because of the irregularity of the text and the fact that it is only sung once a year, it may be best to have the choir sing it. Robert Kreutz has set "In the Bleak Midwinter" to original music in an a capella rendition. Using CRANHAM, this simple choral setting of "In the Bleak Midwinter" is for two-part choir and piano, with optional handbells. A rhythmically fresh treatment of the tune is a feature of this choral arrangement of "In the Bleak Midwinter." If it is desired that the congregation sing the hymn, try using an instrumental setting of CRANHAM as a prelude or offertory during the week or two before, so that they will at least be familiar with the tune. "Let Heaven and Nature Sing" has an easy setting for solo piano, while "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" includes an arrangement for organ. For handbells, there is a graceful, expressive setting of "In the Bleak Midwinter."
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org
|Instances (1 - 37 of 37)||First Line||Title||Tune||Tune Key||Author||Meter||Scripture||Date||Subject||Source|
|Ancient and Modern: hymns and songs for refreshing worship #68||In the bleak mid-winter||CRANHAM||Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)||Irregular||Luke 2:1-20; Revelation 20:11||2013||Angels | ; Children and All-Age Worship | ; Christmas | ; Christmas Day | ; Church Year | Christmas; Mary | ; Self-offering ||
|Baptist Hymnal 1991 #610||What can I give Him||What Can I Give Him||CASTLE||Christina G. Rossetti||Irregular||2 Corinthians 8:5||1991|
|Baptist Hymnal 2008 #207||What can I give Him, poor as I am?||What Can I Give Him?||CASTLE||Christina G. Rossetti||Irregular meter||2008||Commitment, Dedication, Consecration, Devotion | ; Jesus, Our Love for Him ||
|Celebrating Grace Hymnal #131||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti||Irregular||2010||God the Son | Christmastide; Christian Year-Christmastide ||
|Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #162||In the bleak midwinter||2000|
|Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #305||In the bleak midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)||Irregular||1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Peter 3:10; Luke 2:1-20; Luke 21:33; Matthew 2:1-12; Matthew 24:35; Revelation 4:8||2005||Life in Christ | Christ Incarnate - Christmas and Epiphany; Angels | ; Mary | ; Offering | of self|
|Common Praise (1998) #122||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)||Irregular||Luke 2:1-20; Hebrews 2:10-18||1998||Christmas | ; Epiphany ||
|Common Praise: A new edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern #55||In the bleak midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894||Irregular||2 Chronicles 6:18; Hebrews 1:6; Luke 2:6-7; Matthew 2:11; Proverbs 23:2; Revelation 20:11||2000||Christmas | ; Christmas I | Year B|
|Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #333||In the bleak midwinter||In the bleak midwinter||2000|
|Complete Mission Praise #337||In the bleak midwinter||Irr||2000|
|Evangelical Lutheran Worship #294||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1830-1894||Irregular||2006||Christmas | ; Offering ||
|Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #144||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti||Irregular||1 Kings 8:27; Proverbs 23:26; Matthew 2:11; Luke 2:8-14||2013||Christian Year | Nativity/Christmas; Christian Year | Epiphany; Jesus Christ | Birth|
|Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #112||In the bleak midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894||Irr.||1985|
|Hymns Ancient & Modern, New Standard Edition #42||In the bleak midwinter||Irr||1983|
|Hymns and Psalms - 1983 #107||In the bleak mid-winter||In the bleak mid-winter||CRANHAM||Christina G. Rossetti||1983|
|Hymns for a Pilgrim People: a congregational hymnal #115||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894||Irregular||Luke 2:7-8||2007||Christmas | ; Jesus Christ | ; Love ||
|Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #600||In the bleak mid-winter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)||Irregular||1987||God's Church | Doxology, Glory to God|
|Hymns Old and New (Rev. and Enl.) #357||In the bleak mid-winter||CRANHAM||Christina G. Rossetti||2008|
|Hymns Old and New: New Anglican #248||In the bleak midwinter||Irr||1996|
|Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #36||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina G. Rossetti||Irregular||Luke 2:8-20||1990|
|Rejoice Hymns #217||In the bleak mid-winter||In the Bleak Mid-Winter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894||Irregular||Matthew 2:11||2011||Christmas ||
|Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #126||In the bleak midwinter||UINTA||Irregular||1985|
|Sing Glory: Hymns, Psalms and Songs for a New Century #353||In the bleak midwinter||Irr||1999|
|Sing With Me #89||What can I give him, poor as I am||What Can I Give Him||What Can I Give Him||Christina G. Rossetti||Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:8-20||2006||Know | Christmas/Birth of Christ||"In the Bleak Midwinter"|
|Singing the Faith #204||In the bleak mid-winter||CRANHAM||Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1830-1894||Irregular||1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 2 Chronicles 6:18; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Peter 3:8-10; Luke 2:1-14; Luke 21:33; Matthew 2:1-12; Matthew 24:35; Proverbs 23:26; Psalm 51:17||2011||The Incarnate Christ: Christmas ||
|Small Church Music #1468||In the bleak mid-winter||Cranham||CRANHAM||Christina Georgina Rossetti|
|Songs for Life #142||What can I give him, poor as I am||What Can I Give Him||[What can I give him, poor as I am]||Christina G. Rossetti||1995||Singing God's Story | Christmas / Birth of Christ||From "In the Bleak Midwinter"|
|The Christian Life Hymnal #122||In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan||Cranham||2006|
|The Christian Life Hymnal #123||In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan||What Can I Give Him?||Castle||2006|
|The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #151||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894||Irregular||Luke 2:1-20||1996||Christmas | Birth; Stewardship and Giving | ; Times and Seasons ||
|The Cyber Hymnal #3005||In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti|
|The New Century Hymnal #128||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina G. Rossetti||Irr.||1995||Christmas | ; Jesus Christ | Birth and Infancy|
|The New English Hymnal #28||In the bleak midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti, 1830-94||Irregular||1986||The Christian Year | Christmas|
|The United Methodist Hymnal #221||In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina G. Rossetti||Irr.||Luke 2:8-14||1989||Christ's Gracious Life | Birth and Baptism; Christian Year | Christmas; Christian Year | Epiphany; Children's Choir Selections | ; Commitment | ; Jesus Christ ||
|Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #55||In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Georgina Rossetti||Irregular||1996||The Christian Year | Christmas; Angels | ; Christian Year | Christmas; Commitment | ; God | Kingdom, Majesty, Realm; Jesus Christ | Birth and Infancy; Worship | ; Christmas Eve | Year A; Christmas 1 | Year A; Advent 1 | Year B; Advent 3 | Year C; Christmas Eve | Year C|
|Worship and Rejoice #196||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894||Irregular||Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:1-12||2001|
|Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #84||In the bleak midwinter||In the Bleak Midwinter||CRANHAM||Christina Georgina Rossetti; John Andrew Storey||22.214.171.124.D.||1996||Christmas | ; Story of Jesus | ; Love | ; Nativity | ; Winter ||