Carol: In the Bleak Midwinter – Christina Rossetti 1872
Tune: CRANHAM – Gustav Holst 1906
What a lovely phrase ends stanza three of this ever-popular carol whose fourth stanza “What shall I give him, poor as I am?” has become its most well-known.
In this third stanza, we are introduced to angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim – all who hover in the air above the stable place which sufficed as a greeting place for the One that Heaven could not hold back. Those winged figures witness Mary doing what every mother does to their newborn – she leans over, pulls the baby close to her lips and plants a kiss on the forehead or the cheeks. While other mothers do this as an act of love and welcome, Mary’s act was one of worship as well, as if to say, “I love you, I welcome you, and I worship you.”
Bleak this midwinter, yes? Bleak this entire year. But before we turn the calendar to January, let’s realize that hovering angels bid us welcome to express our acceptance of the One who has come to brighten our bleakness. Imagine that you pull Him close to yourself and whisper, “I love you, I welcome you, and I worship you.” If you’re really bold, kiss Him on the forehead and seal it with a kiss. That night, it was Mary only; tonight, it can be all of us.
All is calm. All is bright. No little drummer boy needed.
James Taylor Sings This Carol