if not jolly, at least mildly pleasant.  Yes, we’ve eased into December and all the seasonal trappings.  We’ve been tracking The Sing Off this year and it concluded with a live “Christmas” show featuring groups from all three seasons.  I promised to include a couple of offerings… so here again are the Dartmouth Aires with their salute to The Beatles

Lots of fun, eh.  And show judge Shawn Stockman (he of Boyz II Men fame) joined with season one champs, Nota, to sing This Christmas…

All good stuff.  An enjoyable introduction to the season… with one small gripe…

With all the wonderful Christmas music available for performance in this broadcast, one might think that at least one song (ie. carol) relating to the Nativity could have been included in the show.  The closest thing to it was Justin Bieber’s Mistletoe…

Eh, love, the wise men followed the star

The way I follow my heart And it led me to a miracle

Eh love, don’t you buy me nothing

I am feeling one thing, your lips on my lips

That’s a very, merry Christmas

A religious experience?

Anyway… I’ll let Mr. Stockman and the rest of Boyz II Men correct this particular omission with an a cappella interpretation of a classic of the season (from their Christmas album).

In the bleak midwinter…

One of my favourites for this time of year (maybe it’s the Canadian empathy with snow on snow, snow on snow…)  This carol has an impressive pedigree, with lyrics by poet Christina Rossetti and music by composer Gustav Holst. The original poem was written in response to a request by a British magazine, appearing first in print in 1872.  It was posthumously set to music by Holst in 1906 (Rossetti died in 1894) and published in The English Hymnal.

1. In the bleak mid-winter

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 mid-winter

Long ago.

2. Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him

Nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away

 When He comes to reign:

In the bleak mid-winter

A stable-place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty,

Jesus Christ.

3. Enough for Him, whom cherubim

Worship night and day,

A breastful of milk

And a mangerful of hay;

Enough for Him, whom angels

Fall down before,

 The ox and ass and camel

Which adore.

4. Angels and archangels

May have gathered there,

 Cherubim and seraphim

Thronged the air,

But only His mother1

In her maiden bliss,

Worshipped the Beloved

With a kiss.

5. 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.

1. Or: But ‘His mother only,’ In her maiden bliss

There are several variations to the lyrics to be found when you do a little digging… the one above is one of the more common.  Here I am (finally, me playing again!) doing a simple arrangement of the Holst setting.

p.s. In 2008 a worldwide poll of choirmasters and choral experts was taken and their choice as the number one Christmas carol?  (You probably guessed) In the Bleak Midwinter.  Except… not the one I just playedThey favoured a setting composed by Harold Darke in 1909 to complement Rossetti’s poem.  Although I’ve heard it, I’m not as familiar with it as the Holst version.  See what you think… (skip the ad)…

Christina Rossetti

I hope to be back before Christmas… so I’ll hold my season’s wishes till then… 


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