Tuesday, January 06, 2009

In the Bleak Midwinter

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.



Midwinter is here. It’s dark, damp, cold outside. This is the time of year when the lack of light used to create a transient situational depression  within me, which differs from the chronic depression I have inherited, because it has a cause: the lack of light.

The darkness is even affecting Alex. This morning when he asked (demanded) me to open the door, he didn’t even sit in the threshold looking for other cats. He simply looked left and right outside and scurried to the furnace register, where he napped beside its warmth.

For years, as Christmastide turned to Epiphany, I would put my guitar next to the lectern in the church that I pastored and at some point in the service play and sing the hymn, In the Bleak Midwinter. I had considered doing that on a video for posting today, but on viewing the results decided that my croaking voice—I’ve a bit of a cold at the moment—didn’t do this marvelous hymn credit. So I located the video below to share with you.

Please pay special attention to verse 4.

In the Bleak Midwinter

Text: Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894
Music: Gustav Holst, 1874-1934


1.          In the bleak midwinter, frost 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.
2.          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. 
3.          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. 
4.          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.

Epiphany blessings to you, dear friends.


  1. I can relate to your feelings of depression in the depths of winter. Although not as cold, New Zealand has months of grey, rainy and cold days in winter. I have found, since moving to Queensland, where the climate is subtropical, that I no longer have that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), much to my relief.

    I hope that spring comes soon for you, my friend.

  2. I read that there's a strong link between Vitamin D and depression, and the older you are the more pronounced the link. The less sun we get, the less D our body makes, so that might be one cause of the winter doldrums.

    If a supplement doesn't perk you up, just hang on- spring's coming!

  3. What a beautiful hymn! I feel the same way about winter, but I usually manage to hang in there until mid January or early February before it starts to really get to me. I'm still waiting for a really good snow here in Kansas - That might Cheer me up a bit.

    Take care and enjoy some snuggle time with Alex.
    Love ya,

  4. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful hymn. There is light even in the bleak midwinter.

  5. I commiserate with you on the SAD. I lived in Kansas City for 30 years, and over those years my affliction grew worse and worse. When we moved there, it was affected only when the grey skies lasted for a couple weeks, but before I left there I was struggling after the second day. I'm very happy to be back here in the sunshine. Like Puss-in-boots, I don't have that any more, and I'm so thankful.

    That is a beautiful hymn. I remember singing it many times in my Lutheran days. :)

  6. Thomas is right, you could stand to take more vitamin D. vitamin d is not a vitamin actually, it is a hormone and must be manufactured, so the only places to injest it is from fish, and eggs. but you can buy a product called d visol that moms give breastfed babies (vitamin d doesn't transfer enough in the northern hemisphere in b.milk). not expencive, and easy to take.

    i lived further noth than i do now, and have gone days without seeing the sun... so i know what it can do.

  7. Blessings to you Nick. Thank you for sharing that beautiful song. I get the winter blues too, and I pray that sunshine comes your way soon for you and Alex. At least the days are getting longer, so that gives me hope of things to come.

    I had a vit. D defficency because of sunscreen, so I take Vit. D every day. It also helps RA.

    Do you miss being a miniter? I guess once a minister always right. I mean do you miss having a church to minister to,

    Our pastor has a blog and I put him on my blog role. He is interested in experiences with Angels. It is called Divine Christian Experience.

    I like your trees in your pictures. Pretty neighborhood.

    Take care.

  8. Epiphany blessings to you, dear friend.

  9. Blessings to you as well. Thanks for the beautiful hymn. Dear Christina Rosetti's works are so lovely.

    Have you heard James Taylor's version of this? Really nice.

  10. Thank you again for a very special post.

  11. Excellent, Rev. Saint. Quite well done (as usual).

  12. that was a lovely rendition, thanks.

    i have to admit though, that a croaking voice more closely fits with my general opinion on bleak midwinter, so if you still want to sing for us....

  13. It is a very lovely hymn although it does make me sad, a bit like the glommy days we are having. I notice that in the dark wintry days, my dad seems to be at his lowest. Light and sunshine have such a lifting effect. Thanks for sharing the words. (I'm fine by the way, just a little bit blogless I guess... or maybe it's that the sunshine is my muse! Thanks for checking on me though. xxxxxx)

  14. It's my favourite carol for the 4th verse.

  15. Akelamalu: Blessings back to ya, my friend.

    Squirl: I know where the Light is!

  16. Puss-in-Boots: SAD is so unsettlingly! One sort of slides into it without realizing it.

    Thomas: Yes, I’ve heard of the Vitamin D relationship to treating SAD. I drink lots of Vitamin D enriched milk, but I don’t think any of the supplements I take provide 100% of it.

  17. Auburn Haired Artist: Yes, I truly love the hymn, both the music and the lyrics. We’ve not had much snow here, either. It’s snowing now, but it’s a very, very light snow.

    Dr. John: You are most welcome.

  18. Lynilu: I’ve had years when I felt so deprived of sunshine that went to a health spa for the full-spectrum light treatments. Unfortunately, I can no longer afford that.

    Yes, it is a fabulous hymn. And, it has been around much longer than I originally suspected.

    Xmichra: Thank you! I shall investigate d visol.

  19. Finding Pam: You are most welcome. I find it amazing how seemingly small things, such as insufficient Vitamin D can so affect us.

    Yes, I miss writing liturgies and officiating worship services. I miss it quite a bit.

    And, yes, this is a delightful old neighborhood in which to live. When I was ten, my family moved to a new subdivision in suburbia. Now sidewalks, no mature trees, all spanking new brick houses. If different colored brick hadn’t been used, then one couldn’t tell one house from another. There was so much “sameness” that I have chosen never in my adult life to live in such a place.

    Pamela Terry & Edward : Blessings back to you! I have not heard James Taylor’s version of In the Bleak Midwinter. After I read your comment, I searched the Internet for it without success.

  20. Andi: You are most welcome.

    Azsonofagun : Thank, Rex! And welcome home.

  21. Hipparchia: You’re very welcome. Tasha, who helped me make the video, said that my croaking voice sounded fine. It simply did not please me.

    Daffy: I was just a bit worried about you, my dear, because you’d not blogged in a while. I hope you muse returns soon!

    I have come to believe that sunshine is important in our lives. I wonder if there is a relationship between the lack of sunshine in out smog covered cities and the violence that takes place in them.

  22. give him my heart - that will brighten any day Sandy