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In the Bleak Midwinter

[Christina Rossetti / Gustav Holst (1872)]

Christina Rossetti wrote the poignant words for this well known song in response to a request from the magazine Scribner's Monthly for a Christmas poem. The tune is by Gustav Holst.

John Kirkpatrick sang In the Bleak Midwinter in 1986 on the Greenwich Village album Yuletracks.

The Albion Band sang In the Bleak Midwinter in 1985 on their album A Christmas Present from The Albion Band. The Albion Christmas Band sang it in 2008 on their CD Snow on Snow, in 2009 on their CD Traditional, and in 2014 on their CDs One for the Road.

Martyn Wyndham-Read and company sang In the Bleak Midwinter in 1998 on their Country Branch CD Maypoles to Mistletoe.

Maddy Prior sang In the Bleak Midwinter in 2004 on Steeleye Span's CD, Winter, but left out the third verse like many hymn books who censor the “breastful of milk”.

Corncrow sang In the Bleak Midwinter in 2012 on their EP Christmas Dinner for Horses.

Josienne Clarke sang In the Bleak Midwinter in 2013 on her and Ben Walker's CD Midwinter.

Lyrics

Maddy Prior sings 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.

Enough for him, whom cherubim worship night and day,
A breastful of milk and a mangerful 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 only his mother, 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.