The 12 Days Leading to Christmas – Day 4 – “In the Bleak Midwinter ”

David Stertz
December 17, 2022

This is day 4 of “The 12 Days Leading to Christmas.”  Each day I am highlighting a Christmas hymn that is worth our listening to as Christians this Christmas season. You can read more about the goal of the series here.

Today I highlight for you “In the Bleak Midwinter” by the British poet Christina Rossetti – written in 1872. The music was composed by the famous composer Gustav Holst who is most well known for his orchestral suite “The Planets.”

Rossetti’s poem starts with the scene of a hard, cold, winter warn earth. Many Christians have criticized this hymn, along with others like it, for speaking of the cold and winter weather. They rightly note that this most certainly would not have been the case in Israel when Jesus was born. However, Rossetti is using the cold as a metaphor: the world was not a friendly place for baby Jesus. 

The next two verses contrast supernatural glories with the humble birth of Jesus. In verse 2 there is a contrast between the second coming of Jesus with His awesome and fierce glory to the first coming of Jesus and the stable which housed Him as a little baby. In verse 3 the powerful and glorious unseen angels, who certainly looked down upon the birth of their God as a human baby, are contrasted to a young Mary who worships her Son with a simple kiss. The last verse draws us to give ourselves to the glory of the Son of God. 

Rossetti’s poem is beautiful! Here are the lyrics:

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.

Angels and archangels
may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim
thronged the air,
but only his mother,
in her maiden bliss,
worshiped 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.

Have a Listen!

Acoustic Guitar –


Apple Music


Choral Arrangement – 


Apple Music