In the Bleak Midwinter
About the Song
Words by Christina Rossetti
Melody by Gustav Holst
Arranged by Sally DeFord
The average low temperature in the areas around Bethlehem in December is 43 degrees F. The record low is 30 degrees F. The average low in April is 50F, the record low is 32F.
In whatever part of the calendar year you may believe the Savior was born, I really don’t think that the first stanza of “In the Bleak Midwinter” is meant to be a literal description of the conditions in Bethlehem at Christ’s birth.
To me, it feels like an allegory. When Jesus was born, we humans had been living on this earth for several thousand years, sometimes getting things right, but much more often getting things very, very wrong.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining…
What could be colder, more chilling than century on century of wrong upon wrong upon wrong? Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone… until the Son of God came into the world bringing the warmth of heaven’s love to melt away the hardness in the hearts of mankind. At least, that’s the way I like to think of it.
I used only the first and last stanzas of the poem for this version. The accompaniments on the SSSA and SSATB are identical.
Sheet Music Downloads
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Recording featuring vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor:
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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.
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.
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