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In the Bleak Midwinter

Frozen, ice, midwinter, angel wings, angel

On the day that this is being posted, I should be hard at work fulfilling my New Year’s resolution – writing a book.  Should be, But am I?….  Because this is my serious intention, I’m scheduling posts ahead of time for January and February.  (Hmm… “ahead of time” sounds so sci-fi….)  But, I will still be checking on comments, so please share your thoughts (and keep bugging me to fulfill my resolution!)
This week, as we are still celebrating Christmas (Merry Christmas, everyone) I’m sharing an old carol that caught my ear a couple of weeks ago.  Even though the context is inaccurate – Christ being born in Bethlehem, not a place known for frozen ground and piles of snow – the sentiment is wholly accurate and beautiful.  Much to my surprise, I discovered that it was based on a poem written by Christina Rossetti.  (What a good first name, don’t you think?) Since the poem is slightly different than the lyrics sung by James Taylor in his version (the one that caught my ear) I’m sharing them both here.  My favorite line is “Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain…”.  And, in this poem, as well as in the song, I find the eternal importance of giving God my 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 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,
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.

© 2017 Christina Chase

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.

8 thoughts on “In the Bleak Midwinter Leave a comment

  1. Well, well, one Christina loves another! CR was a remarkable lady, if ever you get some reading time after the book is written, there was a good biography maybe 15 years ago. Maybe more. I used CR’s poetry with my teenage girl students, gentle nudges towards thinking with head and heart. I take it you are developing material you’ve already written here or hereabouts? Mine is another matter; yet another visit to archives in London on Tuesday. then read and inwardly digest … and synthesise so that it all makes sense. Reading letters that you know have not been looked at properly for maybe 40 years … facts falling into place … new light on old stories. I will get Maurice to write about the process on the blog!


    • Oh, yes, Maurice, please do write about the process and share! As a novice, I’m hungry for ideas and direction. I want the whole process of writing my first book to be a prayerful journey, a pilgrimage of sorts, leading me deeper into the Sacred Heart of Jesus and union with God’s Holy Will. Like writing this blog, I hope that writing this book will reflect what I need to know to me as well as to everyone who reads it (no matter how many (or few) that may be.)

      I do remember reading Christina Rossetti before… Can’t remember what now, though. Will definitely be checking in on her at some point, as I believe reading poetry will help me in my writing, as it often does. And, yes, the book is drawing from material that I have already written, focusing together many reflections into one aim. It is not meant to be a scholarly work, although I, too, will be doing some scholarly reading, digesting, fact checking, etc.. Memory is not what it used to be – you probably shared the subject of your book before, but what is its substance? Looking forward to hearing more.
      Happy winter
      Pax Christi


  2. Pages, Christina ! We want to hear about pages. It will take three or four a day to meet your goal. So what’s the score now?

    P.S. There is a striking phrase in the song lyrics that reminds me (again) how real the incarnation is: “Breastful of milk.” What a wonder: Mary and God, God with us. Glory be!


    • That’s some good bugging there – thank you! 😀 In my very, very, very rough draft, I have 25 pages so far. Not bad, since I started Tuesday night – but not great, since it was all previously written….

      Let me take this opportunity to thank you again, Albert, for your encouragement that this little book of mine would be like a little Nativity. Your words were like an epiphany for me, as I began to see my book in my mind’s eye. “Incarnation” is the theme…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Piece by piece, making up page by page and so far, adding up to 25. You’re doing great! Do keep
    it going…..hungry for that book from you!
    Blessings and keep warm today! SIOUX!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Christina,
    How’s the book coming? Any more pages since you reported to Al on 1/5?
    We’re all rooting for you! (That’s why I stopped in to bug you…)
    When you finish your book, I’d be glad to give you a copy of mine to read. Can’t distract you now!
    Many blessings on your labor of love…


  5. Thank you so much for bugging me, Mary! Truly. 51 pages on the rough, rough draft, so far. Started writing the first draft before completing the rough draft – not sure if this was wise, but was itching to really begin.

    Finished first draft of “prologue” and first two chapters, just 14 pages. This is going to be a small book, certainly no more than 200 pages, probably close to 100. Full book report coming in next week’s blog post!

    More incentive to complete my book – so that I can read yours! It will be a nice treat for Easter, I won’t let you forget. Blessings to you in all that you do,
    Pax Christi


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