11 Days Until Christmas
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth…” (Matthew 2:7a)
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 Almighty, Jesus Christ.
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.
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.
ABOUT THE CAROL
1. “In the Bleak Midwinter” is based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti written before 1872 in response to a request from the magazine Scribner’s Monthly for a Christmas poem.
2. The text of this Christmas poem has been set to music many times, the most famous settings being composed by Gustav Holst and Harold Edwin Darke in the early 20th century.
3. Verse one describes the physical circumstances of the incarnation imagined in a snowy Northern landscape.
4. Verse two contrasts the first and second comings of Christ.
5. Verse three contrasts the ethereal angels attendant at Jesus’ birth with Mary’s physical affection for the newborn.
6. The final verse shifts to a more introspective thought process focused on the listener.
O God, who is too big for heaven and earth, we marvel that you fit into a tiny manger. We marvel that you fit into our tiny hearts. Amen.