'In the Bleak Midwinter"' is a Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet, Christina Rossetti. The poem was published, under the title 'A Christmas Carol', in the January 1872 issue of 'Scribner's Monthly'.
The poem first appeared set to music in 'The English Hymnal' in 1906 with a setting by Gustav Holst. Harold Darke's anthem setting of 1911 is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world's leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008.
Analysis of the carol verses:
In verse one, Rossetti describes the physical circumstances of the Incarnation in Bethlehem. In verse two, Rossetti contrasts Christ's first and second coming. The third verse dwells on Christ's birth and describes the simple surroundings, in a humble stable and watched by beasts of burden. Rossetti achieves another contrast in the fourth verse, this time between the incorporeal angels attendant at Christ's birth with Mary's ability to render Jesus physical affection. The final verse shifts the description to a more introspective thought process.
The three wise men brought the baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What we are asked to give Him is 'our heart'. And in a nutshell, that is the true message of Christmas; to give to one another the love we have to give.
Love and peace. Bill xxx