In the bleak mid-winter
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.

This is one of my favorite Christmas carols because the lyrics remind me of the bleak and dark winters in Scotland, and the haunting melody, beautifully composed by Gustav Holst, just resonates with the profound feelings of introversion that Christina Rossetti expresses throughout this quiet and somber poem.

Christina was sister to the famous painter Dante Rossetti, who formed what is now known as the Pre-Raphaelite movement of the 19th century. Christina suffered from bouts of depression throughout her life, so the bleak mid-winter that she writes about could also have been a reflection of her own ailment.

The hymn has a child-like innocence and simplicity to it, just like Christ in the manger. The last stanza presents the dilemma of the poet or singer who initially has nothing to bring to Jesus. The shepherd brings a perfect lamb, the wise men bring expensive gifts – the only thing that the singer has to offer is her heart, which is the greatest gift that any of us can bring and give to Jesus.

Points to ponder

Am I stressed out by trying to find, buy, and give the perfect gifts for others? Have I taken the time to give Christ the greatest gift of all – my heart?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are God’s greatest gift to the world and we are grateful for Your success in obtaining for us our salvation. Humbly and simply, we give to You our hearts forever. Amen.

Today’s image is one of John’s latest Nativity drawings called ‘Northern Light.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click here.

You can listen and watch a delightful rendition of this simple carol as sung by the great singer/songwriter James Taylor on YouTube.