November 17, 2006

In the Bleak Midwinter [UPDATED]

I’ve been a fan of the Christmas music for quite a while, both old and new. Somehow, I’ve managed to never hear "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" until tonight. I’m sure purists are going to hammer me on this one and I probably have no excuse. I’ve just never heard it.

But my Lord am I glad that I did! I heard Sarah McLachlan’s version off her new Christmas album. It’s beautiful. I wonder if my all-time favorite Christmas song (which we haven’t even featured yet) finally has a run for its money. I’m not sure why, but the sadness and mourning of McLachlan’s version just strikes the right note for me tonight.

Sarah McLachlan – In the Bleak Midwinter

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.

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.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But his mother only,
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 wiseman,
I would do my part;
Yet what can I give him-
Give my heart.

According to Wikipedia (apparently this site’s go-to for information, however sad that may be), the song was written in 1872 by Christina Georgina Rossetti. She led an interesting life. This wasn’t published until 1904, well after her death. One website claims that Rossetti wrote this poem in response to a call for Christmas poems in Schribner’s Magazine.

Whatever the motives, this is one beautiful song. Also included here are versions by

The Pipettes

Bert Jansch

The King’s College Choir

The Royal College of Music Chamber Choir

and the highly recommended rendition by guitar legend John Fahey

All are worth listening to. I’ll be back soon but in the meantime, I’ll wish The Ohio State Buckeyes best of luck. PC, our other contributor, is heading to Columbus this weekend and will be inducted into the Green Hornet Society.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it is just me and my stupid computer - but every time I download the "Bleak Midwinter" trax then play them back, they skip like crazy!

And I agree - this is a terrific song - I've been humming it to myself all morning thanks to you!

Anonymous said...

Also - forgot to mention - nice job on this site - you've posted some terrific stuff. I especially like the Coke ad! Any more holiday ads coming up?

Thanks - 12vman