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Play and Sing In the Bleak Midwinter

Updated on November 7, 2015

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter is a really beautiful Christmas tune! Britain had its share of bleakness and beauty last year with unusual amounts of snowfall. What better way to portray it than the words of Christina Rossetti and the music of Gustav Holst for In The Bleak Midwinter?

My free sheet music for In the Bleak Midwinter is only just within the public domain but I thought you might enjoy some tips on how to play it and a few ideas inspired by what has been voted the most popular carol of all time.

Intro image - Lincoln Ridge near Waddington - my own image, please do not copy. Card is available on Zazzle.

Orla Fallon's Celtic Christmas - A voice as pure as the snow....

In the Bleak Midwinter - Who wrote the music and words of In the Bleak Midwinter?

The words were written in 1872 by Christina Rossetti in response to a request from a magazine. The English composer Gustav Holst wrote the music in 1906 and its most famous setting is by Harold Darke. Many people have arranged this beautiful melody too. Here are some links that will give you more information.

Melody of In The Bleak Midwinter for Recorder - This is in the key G for ease of playing on the Recorder

In the Bleak Midwinter for Recorder
In the Bleak Midwinter for Recorder
Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

Words for In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti

Lyrics to In the Bleak Midwinter

Here are the standard lyrics, so you can sing along if you wish. The words of the first verse and some snow scenes from this shivery week in Lincolnshire inspired some designs which I will also share with you.

In the Bleak midwinter by Christina Rossetti

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,

A breastful of milk, and a manger full 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 in 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.

Here are some traditional and well loved Christmas hymns and carols for guitar that I have published:

My Three Carol Books

The Realm of Photahsiamirabel has print on demand Anthems, Carols. Band Projects, Musical Analysis, Poetry and Illuminated Poetry.
The Realm of Photahsiamirabel has print on demand Anthems, Carols. Band Projects, Musical Analysis, Poetry and Illuminated Poetry. | Source

My First Very Easy Christmas Carol Book [Spiral-Bound]

Carols for beginners to play. Single note melodies with chord letters. Very easy large font notes with notename noteheads.

Traditional Christmas Carols For Guitar Solo [Paperback]

Easy and intermediate arrangements of well loved Christmas carols for fingerstyle guitar. Includes TAB as well as music.

Traditional Christmas Carols for Guitar Ensemble [Paperback]

Arrangements of well loved Carols for flexible sized guitar ensembles, these are full scores, not separate parts.

Daum Robin Figurine


In the Bleak Midwinter - Card Design for In the Bleak Midwinter


In the Bleak Midwinter by persimew

Frosty Wind Made Moan - Trees etched by snow and wind.


Frosty Wind Made Moan by persimew at zazzle

Earth Stood Hard As Iron - Seen Across the Lincoln Ridge


Earth Stood Hard As Iron by persimew

Water Like A Stone - My Frozen Pond with Struggling Fountain


Water Like A Stone by persimew

Snow Had Fallen, Snow On Snow - Tree Branches on the Ridge Near Waddington


Snow had fallen, snow on snow by persimew

In the Bleak Midwinter, Long Ago - Frozen Fountain....

The whole series of snowy images are available on the link below. I thought these pictures would make a good illustration of the words. Cards can be customized.
The whole series of snowy images are available on the link below. I thought these pictures would make a good illustration of the words. Cards can be customized. | Source

Frozen Fountain Seasons Greetings by persimew


Loreena McKennit and Kiri Te Kanawa sing with such a warm quality, Orla Fallon has the voice of a snow angel, the choirs are so traditional and sound really holy, but which version do you like best?

© 2010 Lisa Marie Gabriel

In the Bleak Midwinter - is it your favorite carol? - Which version do you like to hear?

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    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 

      7 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      I love this carol. Usually a neighbour or two get a verse of this when I deliver my Christmas cards. One of my favourite carols. Beautiful photos here, too.

    • Richard-H profile image


      9 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      I'm glad I found this. It's my favourite Christmas carol. I've featured on my own lens about it. Blessed!

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 

      10 years ago from Michigan

      The pine bough heavy with snow makes an excellent Christmas card! Thumbs up!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      10 years ago from California

      Lisa- I love those photos...they sure do feel cold! The one of the road with the fence is my favorite..I can feel myself walking there. What a perfect way to match the song In the Bleak Midwinter which I had never heard, but now it is imprinted because of your photos.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      10 years ago

      ~ Blessed by a Squid Angel >*

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      10 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Your photographs are lovely and make wonderful cards. I just moved back to 'snow' country after 17 years in the South (U.S., that is), but we haven't had snow yet here in Missouri. The 'cold' though is already making it a 'bleak midwinter' moment here for me! :) Perhaps the Carol will warm my heart, if not my fingers and toes.

    • rwoman profile image


      10 years ago

      It is among my favorite carols. I've got a couple version on my Itunes list but haven't thought about which one is my fav.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great snowy lens for our British winter. Blessed by a squid angel and featured on my lens Me?!! A Squid Angel.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I think I have heard this song at Church with different words! Beautiful for this time of the year and I absolutely loved your photos. We had our first snowfall last weekend and I got out photographing too.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I had never heard this song before but it is quite beautiful. Your photos are awesome, although I'm happy that I no longer have to drive in snow and ice of that proportion! I've really enjoyed this lens. Connie

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Beautiful images (I'm really jealous, we've had no snow!).

    • annieangel1 profile image


      10 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      lovely -

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Ah, "Angels and archangels may have gathered there" ... fa la la la la la la la la! Merry Christmas.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Remember having to learn this in school for Christmas service. I liked it. Thanks for the lens.

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      10 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi! I'm lensrolling this to my 10 Best Classical Christmas Songs lens (this song is one of the ten I picked).


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