One of my favorite Christmas songs is one I hadn’t even heard of until a few years ago when I listened to James Taylor singing it on his Christmas album. About this time of year, I find myself humming it wherever I go, perhaps because it’s such a perfect fit for our Michigan winters with their landscape of hard, white earth set beneath a lid of thick, gray skies. And yet so much wonder and worship attend the song that it cheers my spirits. The song is called “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and its lyrics were written by Christina Rossetti, a famous English poet. The poem wasn’t set to music until twelve years after she died.
With or without music, it makes a beautiful prayer:
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.
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.
Yes, Lord, I give you my heart.