“In the Bleak Midwinter” is an old song — one you might not know. But it’s also a song of gold — one you need to hear. The words convey a message that you should ponder in your heart. Athough, it’s from long ago, it continues to be sung — even in our time.
I’ve not heard this song in many years. At least, not until recently when watching an episode of the Netflix original drama, “The Crown.” The song brought back childhood memories of Christmases past and songs that we sang. Some of the “oldies” are truly “goldies” and we should never forget them. “In the Bleak Midwinter” has beautiful words that express the cold world into which Jesus entered. The song also speaks of the appropriate gifts that should be given to Jesus.
If it evokes memories of Christmases past for you, enjoy! If you’ve never heard the song, take a minute and step back — back to a simpler time, a more Christ-focused world, in which even kings knew to bow before the Lord God Almighty, Jesus.
In the episode of “The Crown,” the royal family was shown enjoying an evening gathering during the Advent season. The scene depicted a group of local carolers who stopped by Sandringham House to sing a Christmas carol for the royal family’s enjoyment. The smallest caroler held a large gift box, which she presented to the king. Inside was a paper crown. The king graciously accepted the crown and placed it on his head. The king then joined the carolers in singing the song, and he finished with the words that ponder what one can possibly give to the Christ Child who is the King of kings. Having just learned that he was dying, the king was overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry (watch the video clip below).
In the Bleak Midwinter
The words of this song were written in 1872 and published as poetry in 1904 by Christina Georgina Rossetti. It was set to music by Gustav Theodore Hoist in 1906 and later published in “The English Hymnal” in 1916.
While it’s an old song, it has enjoyed a robust life — having been sung by church choirs throughout the centuries and recorded by some major artists in recent years. Artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Dan Fogelberg, The Moody Blues, Judy Collins (below), Annie Lenox, Cyndi Lauper, Sarah MacLaughlin, James Taylor, and more, have complemented the original, moving words with their musical renditions.
The words are beautiful and inspiring. They evoke the heart of Christmas, the love we have for our Saviour, and a reminder of the most important gift we can ever give Him. The song is titled “In the Bleak Midwinter” but is also called “What Can I Give Him?” from the most profound question the song poses before giving the most important answer.
video by Reasons for Hope* Jesus
Poet and Song Writer, Christina Georgina Rossetti
About Christina Georgina Rossetti: She was the daughter of Gabriel, and sister of Dante Gabriel and William Michael Rossetti. Born in London, Dec. 5, 1830, she received her education at home. Her published works include Goblin Market, and Other Poems, 1862, The Prince’s Progress, and Other Poems, 1866, Poems (mainly a reprint of those mentioned), 1875, and A Pageant, and Other Poems, 1881.
Rossetti also published several works of prose, including, Annus Domini (a daily book of prayers), 1874 and Letter and Spirit of the Decalogue, 1883. Although she wrote few hymns for church worship, her words of poetry were often set to music and many were included in hymn books. In addition to “In the Bleak Midwinter,” some of Rossetti’s songs that are in common use, include, “A Burdened Heart that Bleeds and Bears,” “Give Me the Lowest Place, Not That I Dare,” “None Other Lamb, None Other Name,” “The Shepherds Had an Angel, “We Know Not a Voice of That River.”
In the Bleak Midwinter, from “The Crown”
After the death of King George VI, Winston Churchill gave a beautiful eulogy that included this tribute:
“He was sustained not only by his natural buoyancy, but by the sincerity of his Christian faith. During these last months the King walked with death as if death were a companion, an acquaintance whom he recognized and did not fear. In the end death came as a friend, and after a happy day of sunshine and sport, and after ‘good night’ to those who loved him best, he fell asleep as every man or woman who strives to fear God, and nothing else in the world, may hope to do.”
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.
The Season of Advent (the 4 weeks before Christmas)
Will You Find Rest This Advent Season?
HOPE Advent Candle 1 – Prophecy Gives Hope (video)
LOVE Advent Candle 2 – Promise Reveals Love (video)
JOY Advent Candle 3 – Jesus Is Our Joy (video)
PEACE Advent Candle 4 – Pause to Find Peace (video)
Christmas Day: When Love Was Born — Light the CHRIST Candle
Christmas-themed GOT QUESTIONS?
- Misconceptions about the Journey to Bethlehem (video)
- Errors in the Nativity Story? Is Jesus’ birthplace wrong?
- Who were the Three Wise Men? Fact or legend?
- How Did the Wise Men Know to Follow His Star?
- Did The Wise Men Arrive 12 Days After Jesus’ Birth? Or Was It Much Later?
- What is the significance of the Three Kings' gifts?
- Was Jesus born in a stable, a cave, or a house?
- Was Jesus born in September (not December?)
- Should we celebrate Jesus’ birthday in September?
- Does “Xmas” Cross Jesus Out of Christmas?
- What is the Prophetic Symbolism of Advent Candles?
- The Most Important Lesson for YOU in the Nativity Story?
- Was Mary a Levite, making Jesus both King and Priest?
- Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?
- How did Jesus become a man?
- Do You Get These 7 Things Right or Wrong About the Nativity Story?
- Are You Stuck in the Middle This Christmas? (short video lessons from the popular comedy TV show "The Middle.")
- What are the Prophecies of Christmas? (video)
- Where are the genealogies of Jesus in Mark and John?
- Why Are There Two Different Genealogies for Jesus?
- Should I Say “Happy Holidays” Instead of “Merry Christmas?”
- A Boastful Christmas Letter
- Peace Delivers Hope
- Promise Ignites Hope
- Preparation Produces Hope
- Prophesy Reveals Hope
- Alone at Christmas? Feeling lonely?
- Another reason God came to dwell with man.
- How can you have a white Christmas without snow?
- Christmas, abortion, and Joseph, the forgotten man of Christmas
- Remember the Wonder of Christmas
- Will you find rest, peace, and joy this advent season?
- A Christmas Morning Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, performed by Casting Crowns
- Mary’s Child — from the movie, A Christmas Wish
- The True Meaning of Christmas: The Sacrifice Began (How Many Kings)
- What If You Had Been There When Jesus Was Born? (video)
- Pause To Find Hope. Receive the Promises of God. See Jesus. Hear God’s Plan.
- Christmas Trivia Fun
- Songs of Christmas Series: Away in a Manger; Mary, Did You Know? Rose of Bethlehem; Good Christian Men Rejoice; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; I Wonder As I Wander; What Child Is This? The First Noel In the Bleak Midwinter (a golden oldie)
Have You Heard About This Baby Boy? A most beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, with a Christmas message to touch your heart and give joy to your soul.
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The Top Ten Got Questions? in 2020
- The Meaning of NUMBERS in the Bible?
- The Meaning of COLORS in the Bible?
- Did The Wise Men Arrive 12 DAYS AFTER JESUS’ BIRTH? Or Was It Much Later?
- What is the Significance of the Wise Men's THREE GIFTS? And were they kings?
- How are the Shepherd’s Rod and Staff Different?
- What Does It Mean to TASTE & SEE That God Is Good? (Psalm 34)
- What do the 12 stones UNDER the JORDAN River mean? (Joshua 4)
- Is Leonard Cohen’s “HALLELUJAH” a Christian Song?
- How was Jesus Like a Worm? What’s the CRIMSON (OR SCARLET) WORM? Psalm 22
- Is my TATTOO a sin?
More Popular Got Questions & Articles
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SIN, INIQUITY, TRANSGRESSION? How are they different?
Should we call HIM JESUS? Or Yahweh? Or Yeshua?
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JESUS WEPT. Why?
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Something ALL Christians must know: IVDARR
TOP TEN Videos from Reasons for Hope* Jesus
- Memorial Day BAGPIPES TRIBUTE: Amazing Grace
- Christian Version of Leonard Cohen's HALLELUJAH
- RISE AND SHINE and Give God the Glory, Glory!
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- Hark! the Herald Angels Sing -- CHARLIE BROWN Christmas