Home » Song List » In the Bleak Midwinter

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.

Listen (and free 128kbps MP3 downloads)

Click the Soundcloud download icon to download the free track for personal use.

Recording featuring vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor:

Accompaniment track:

HQ Audio Downloads

These files may be copied/shared in any quantity in any physical format unless otherwise noted. They may not be re-sold or offered for download.

YouTube


  (Video provided to YouTube by outside parties may contain ads that may be skipped after a few seconds.)

Lyrics

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.

If you have questions, please check the FAQ
If you don't find your answer there, feel free to post your question here. 🙂

7 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Do you have the vocal solo version available?

    Reply
    • sallydeford

      Amanda, I don’t have a solo score separate from the others. Just use the SSAA score and sing the melody throughout.

      Reply
  2. Jim Jordan

    I am Music Director for two churches, one Presbyterian and one UCC. I will be using this beautiful arrangement with both. Thank you for such wonderful spiritual resources!

    Reply
  3. Bonnie Caldwell

    One of my alltime favorite carols. Thank you for these arrangements!

    Reply
    • Tracey L. Carpenter (Olson)

      Bonnie Caldwell—-from Midvale Utah?

      Reply
  4. Tammy

    Sally, thank you for your website. You do a great service for members of the church all over the world by providing free printable arrangements of hymns and other sacrament-appropriate music! I was asked at the last minute to sing a song in sacrament meeting the Sunday before Christmas. I wanted to sing “In the Bleak Midwinter” and began searching online for an arrangement that I liked that was also available to me immediately and not too expensive. I wasn’t finding that until I thought to check your website for it. Voilá! You had an arrangement that I liked, that was available for me to print immediately, and that was free! Thank you so much for sharing your arrangements with others. I received many comments from ward members who enjoyed the musical number. I also like your little blurbs about the background of the song. What you said about the image of snow in the song “In the Bleak Midwinter” was perfect. And I used your explanation to help others understand the song.

    Reply
  5. Mandy Powrie

    I always read the “about this song” section on your website – and I really appreciate that it’s there, thank you!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don't see what you want here? Try one of these great sites:

  • Free LDS Sheet Music

    Free, downloadable religious music. 4500+ selections. Publish your own music there as well!

(Affiliate links. Use them if you’d like to help fund this site.)