Tuesday, September 29, 2009

:::In the Bleak Midwinter:::

I just found out that my favorite Christmas Carol -- 'In the Bleak Midwinter' -- was first written as a poem by the wonderful Christina Rosetti. I think her words here are perfect because they convey so simply and beautifully exactly what she is trying to say, and the exact feelings and observations that this moment would elicit. It's a sign of good writing when you feel positive that there is no other way in heaven or earth to nail the essence of something more completely than a certain writer already has.

This video below is my favorite rendition of 'In the Bleak Midwinter' by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir (and congregation). Don't you just want to be there with them? 9 times out of 10 this makes me cry.

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.

Enough for him, whom Cherubim
Worship night and day
A breast full of milk
And a manger full 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 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 wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him
—Give my heart.

The first stanza is my favorite -- "In the bleak midwinter/Frosty wind made moan/Earth stood hard as iron/Water like a stone." Is that not perfect? If I tried for a million years I couldn't come up with something so succinct and yet so packed with imagery. I wish I had the mind of a poet because they see so many lyrical connections and interpretations in the world.

And yes, this marks the official start of the holiday season on this here blog. It's in the 60s right now and I had to wear a scarf tonight. Oh, and I literally just heard the air conditioning cut off for the first time since April. Ha, ha! Welcome, cold! Welcome, Christmas!


Jill said...

Wow, you're just skipping fall all together and moving onto Christmas eh?

We're having our first seriously fall weather day here and I'm loving it. I have the windows open to the rain and the wind (at least for now) and am giddy.

I love this song too and had no idea it was a poem first.

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing the video. I love that.

Rachel and Jeremy said...

Amazing! "In the Bleak Midwinter" is also my favorite Christmas song! And you're right--it is a beautiful rendition.

Have you heard the Sarah Maclachlan version? I love it (it's my favorite version). She has such a beautiful voice, and she tweaks the melody just slightly in a wonderful way. She makes it sound like the world's sweetest lullaby. Love it.

Happy Christmas!

michelle said...

I LOVE love love that song! Sarah MacLachlan has a great version, as does Shawn Colvin. And James Taylor!