Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

I think I first heard In the Bleak Midwinter on Dan Fogelberg’s 1999 project The First Christmas Morning. If you don’t have this CD, go buy it now. It has a distinct acoustic old-world sound that takes you back to Christmases past. Later, I heard James Taylor’s rendition of the song on the 2004 Hallmark release A Christmas Album. The same cuts, plus or minus a song or two, were released by Columbia in 2006 as James Taylor at Christmas. You should go buy this CD as well. Dan and James both give moving performances of this old carol. I believe the lyrics included here are the original verses. The artists on modern recordings have revised or omitted certain lines or stanzas in order to make the language more current. Either way, they are lovely lyrics set to an equally lovely melody.

In the Bleak Midwinter
Lyrics by Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894
Music by Gustav Holst, 1874-1934

In the bleak midwinter, frost 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,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

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.


Wikipedia: In the Bleak Midwinter


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This song has been one of my Christmas favorites over the years. Guy Penrod’s lead vocals and David Phelps’ soaring tenor on the recording are the type of singing that in the past easily moved me to tears, even when I didn’t fully understand the words. When I listened again this week, I decided to check out the lyrics in the CD insert, and what I read was pure poetry. Suzanne Gaither Jennings is quite the lyricist, not unlike her mother Gloria Gaither. What a powerful anthem to the Sender and the Sent.

The Hand of Sweet Release

Come thou long expected Jesus,
Come illuminate the mysteries of life.
Come redeem us from the refuse,
Bring an end to endless suffering and strife.
Be the star that shines so brightly
That it draws our weary eyes to the sky,
to Heaven’s sky.
Dearest child of new beginnings,
Be the start of something beautiful, I cry.

There’s an end to all the waiting,
There’s an answer to the “who?” and “where?” and “why?” . . . tonight.
All the years anticipating,
Are surrendered to a tiny baby’s cry.
There’s a dawn to follow darkness,
There’s a face to fill the title, “Prince of Peace.”
What he promised, he delivered

I am saved by the hand of sweet release.

In this war I’ve been a captive,
Just a sinner seeking life and liberty.
But these hands that hold me tightly
Are the hands that set my shackled spirit free.
Blessed Jesus, meek and lowly,
You have come into my life and made it new,
Now I’m new.
Out of bondage into everlasting light,
I owe everything to you.

Words by Suzanne Jennings. Music by Guy Penrod and Michael Sykes. ©1998 Townsend and Warbucks Music and Saddlebred Music (adm. by Gaither Copyright Management) Mal N’ Al Music (adm. by ICG)/ASCAP. All rights reserved.

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