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county_lady

In the Bleak Midwinter - Christina Rossetti

In its adapted form as my favourite carol for Christmas.

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.
Mikeharvey

Thanks for that County Lady.  I had forgotten that Christina Rossetti wrote the words of "In The Bleak Midwinter". She has been rediscoverd in the last few years as a notable poet in her own right. Her Collected Poems make quite a substantial volume.  Her book of children's poems "Sing-Song" is charming and her long "Goblin Market" is a very strange piece.
Evie

'In the Bleak Midwinter' was recently voted the favourite carol among choirs.

Apparently the Brits really like the slightly melancholic carols!

I *loved* Goblin Market as a child, and once I got into the Pre-Raphs as an adolescent, I used to read Christina Rossetti.  Haven't read her for years, though - might dig her out again sometime.
Fiveowls

Thank you County Lady.  It's always been my wife's favourite carol and re-reading it I can see why.  Happy Christmas!   Smile
MikeAlx

Evie wrote:
Apparently the Brits really like the slightly melancholic carols!

My favourite has always been The Coventry Carol. You can't get much more melancholic than that! Music aside, it even mentions the massacre of the innocents (I can't think of another carol that does). I especially like the original version with that lovely semitone clash, which subsequent arrangers have often 'tidied up'.

I'm sure I must have sung the solo verse of 'In The Bleak Midwinter' at some point in my choirboy days! As I recall, there are two different tunes - both rather nice.
verityktw

Do people prefer the Holst or the Darke setting of In the Bleak Midwinter?

MikeAlx wrote:
Music aside, it even mentions the massacre of the innocents (I can't think of another carol that does).


The first two thousand words of my dissertation are largely about the Coventry Carol! The reason it's so dark is because in its original context it was primarily about the massacre of the innocents: it appears in The Shearmen and Taylors’ Pageant, part of a Medieval mystery cycle, and is sung by the mothers of baby boys under two years old to their infants to hush them so they can hide from the killers. The audience have just seen Herod issue his order for massacre to Armiger, his hit-man, and the song is followed by the stark stage direction to Armiger's band of armed men 'They kill the boys'. Its history and use as a carol are really fascinating...
MikeAlx

Thanks for that Verity - I'm afraid I know very little about the mystery plays, except that they gave us the traditional names for the three magi. The massacre of the innocents is such a powerful trope - no wonder Mallory nicked it for the first book of Le Morte d'Arthur. Well it's a pretty good reason for Mordred to hate Arthur, anyway!
MikeAlx

verityktw wrote:
Do people prefer the Holst or the Darke setting of In the Bleak Midwinter?

I like both, but if I had to choose I think I might go for the Darke. I particularly like the delicate interplay between the organ and choir.

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