Monday, 16 December 2013

In the bleak midwinter

Today ended beautifully with a peaceful Carol Service held in Barnes. After a day of rushing around with stress levels at their peak, it was a welcome contrast to sit in a candle lit church listening to my God daughter's school choir sweetly singing some of our favourite carols. With all the crazy preparations in the run up to Christmas. I do think we have a tendency to overlook what the spirit of Christmas is all about. 

Carols illustrate the religious origin of this holiday and serve to bring to light why we actually celebrate Christmas. My all time favourite is In the bleak midwinter. Poignant and melancholic it was written in 1872 by Christina Rossetti for an American magazine Scribner's Monthly. In 1906 Gustav Holst set it to music for the English Hymnal, the music is known as Cranham. The stark words remind us of what it is all about, contrasting with the season's excesses the landscape around us is harsh and grey. Hearing this beautiful carol brought me back down to earth tonight, making me want to rush back to the warmth of my family and be grateful for what I have. Do you have a favourite carol that ignites your heart?

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 mid-winter, 
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 mid-winter 
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.