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 suffic...ed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Angels and archangels May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim Thronged the air;
But His mother only, 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.
Christina Rosetti was the daughter of an Italian immigrant to England. She and her brother were involved in the world of art and literature. She never married, though by all accounts her beauty was quite stunning. A devout Anglican, Christina was engaged once to a Catholic who promised to convert. When he had second thoughts, however, se broke the engagement.
This poem – set to music 12 years after Rosetti’s death – is disarming in its simplicity. Powerful notions are presented in the starkest of images. “Snow on snow” shows the bleakness of the earth, which stands “hard as iron.” We see the angels “thronged” in the winter sky; we are then immediately transported to the stable, where Mary worships her beloved Son as any new mother would – with a kiss.