Wednesday, December 24, 2014

In the Bleak Midwinter

For as long as I can remember, I have lived in places between 37º and 44º N latitude.  That means that Christmas has always been accompanied by cold temperatures, and usually snow.  I savor the change of seasons and I especially like having white Christmases.

It's no secret that Jesus probably was not born in December, and there almost certainly wasn't any snow falling that night in Bethlehem.  But there's something so apropos about celebrating Christmas "in the bleak midwinter" because it reflects mankind's condition.  It is not the weather that was bleak when Christ was born, but our hearts.  Cold, hopeless, lonely, miserable.  Into this bleakness Life and Light came!

But Christina Rossetti said it far better than I.  Her poem came to mind as I took a chilly Christmas Eve jog with this in view:

In the bleak mid-winter
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 mid-winter
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 mid-winter
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.

1 comment:

  1. I grew up with the music by Holst, but in college I got acquainted with King's College Choir, and they often use the setting by Harold Edwin Darke. Sometimes I think it's a little less bleak.


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