Song for the Day: In the Bleak Midwinter
I heard this recording of the hymn recently, and I knew I had to share it with you. Probably because I am a sucker for great cello music.
A footnote here – the cellist in this video is Sheku Kanneh -Mason. He played at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel. His family is quite talented. On this video, it is his sister playing piano.
The information below is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"In the Bleak Midwinter" is a Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti. The poem was published, under the title "A Christmas Carol", in the January 1872 issue of Scribner's Monthly, and was first collected in book form in Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems (Macmillan, 1875). The poem first appeared set to music in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav Holst.
Harold Darke's anthem setting of 1911 is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world's leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008.
As first published in Scribner's Monthly (January 1872)
In the bleak mid-winter 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 mid-winter Long ago. Our God, heaven cannot hold Him Nor earth sustain, Heaven and earth shall flee away When He comes to reign: In the bleak mid-winter A stable-place sufficed The Lord God Almighty — Jesus Christ. Enough for Him, whom cherubim Worship night and day, A breastful of milk And a mangerful of hay; Enough for Him, whom Angels Fall down before, The ox and ass and camel Which adore. Angels and Archangels May have gathered there, Cherubim and seraphim Thronged the air; But only His Mother In her maiden bliss Worshipped the Beloved With a kiss. 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.
In verse one, Rossetti describes the physical circumstances of the Incarnation in Bethlehem. In verse two, Rossetti contrasts Christ's first and second coming. The third verse dwells on Christ's birth and describes the simple surroundings, in a humble stable and watched by beasts of burden. Rossetti achieves another contrast in the fourth verse, this time between the incorporeal angels attendant at Christ's birth with Mary's ability to render Jesus physical affection. The final verse shifts the description to a more introspective thought process.
Hymnologist and theologian Ian Bradley has questioned the poem's theology: "Is it right to say that heaven cannot hold God, nor the earth sustain, and what about heaven and earth fleeing away when he comes to reign?" However, I Kings 8.27, in Solomon's prayer of dedication of the Temple, says: "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you." Regarding "heaven and earth fleeing away", many New Testament apocalyptic passages use such language, principally Revelation 20. 11 "And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them" (KJV). Similar language is used in II Peter 3. 10-11: "The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire... That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells" (NIV).
For me, this hymn states the greatness of God, the humble nature of the birth of the Son of God, and our response of which God desires.
Let us Pray: We await your Son’s coming once again. In this bleak midwinter, we long for your light and your love. Thank you for your Son, our Savior and Lord. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.