Thought for the Day by Hilary Larkin (St Chad’s)
InThe Bleak Mid-Winter
This carol has always been a favourite of mine, I think for the beautiful simplicity of the words and slightly haunting tune. It speaks of the love for Christ in Heaven and Earth.
It was written by Christina Rosetti as a Christmas poem for an American magazine in 1872 and set to music by Gustav Holst in 1906, which was after her death.
The first verse ‘in the bleak mid-winter’ when ‘snow had fallen, snow on snow’ is the most well known and best remembered by everyone. Slightly romantic and seemingly setting the scene for a Victorian Christmas card picture. It describes, though, in a simple, sparse way, the ‘bleak’ world that Jesus came into and perhaps that is appropriate for us at the moment as we can, this year, feel we are metaphorically in a bleak mid-winter.
God came to earth at Christmas in the form of Jesus’s birth and a simple stable was enough for Him. He had ‘milk’ and ‘hay’ to sustain him and the love of His mother. Who are we to complain with all our comforts and luxuries? He was worshipped and adored but above all He came to bring love.
The final verse challenges us, ‘What can I give Him, poor as I am?’ and we are told to give what we can, ‘Give my heart’.
We can give our time and ourselves and show love for others. We don’t need all the glitz and glamour and expensive food and presents! It’s hard though for us to let go of the trappings of Christmas and they do bring fun and joy at this time, but we are reminded that it’s what is in our hearts that really matters.
I have included two rather different versions of ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’. One by the King Singers and the other by the Choir of Kings College, Cambridge and hope that you will enjoy them.