"In the Bleak Midwinter"

I think today's lesson will introduce you to one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It's more of a Christmas song, so although you can learn about it at any time of the year, you might prefer to do this lesson at Christmas-time.

Gustav Holst (1874-1934) wrote the music for the song "In the Bleak Midwinter." He was a composer from England and was greatly interested in the music of everyday people--folk music.

Listen to his musical arrangement of the beautiful Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) poem “In the Bleak Midwinter” which became part of The English Hymnal of 1906. English poet Rossetti wrote the poem many years earlier for the magazine Scribner's Monthly. The music Holst set the poem to is a hymn tune called "Cranham."

"In the Bleak Midwinter"

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.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim

Worship night and day,

A breastful of milk,

And a mangerful of hay;

Enough for Him, whom angels

Fall down before,

The ox and ass and camel

Which adore.

Angels and archangels

May have gathered there,

Cherubim and seraphim

Thronged the air -

But only His mother

In her maiden bliss

Worshipped 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.

Here are 4 different versions of "In the Bleak Midwinter":

  • King's College Boys Choir:

  • James Taylor:

  • Sissel:

  • Susan Boyle


Which do you like better? Why? What's different and what's the same about the 4 versions? This would be a good writing prompt to use with your kids!


Midwinter 15-Minute Music Lesson Course.pdf
In the Bleak Midwinter Cursive copywork.pdf
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