Saturday, December 26, 2020

On the second day of Christmas ....

Here it is the second day of Christmas, typically the time of the season when I start to develop a little enthusiasm for it --- just as many are ripping down their decorations and holiday music abruptly disappears from the various media.

So here's a favorite carol, "In the Bleak Midwinter," a Christina Rossetti poem (1872) with a lovely setting by Gustav Holst (1906). The words are some of the loveliest in the English language, I think.

The performance was from this year's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, in this coronavirus year a pre-recorded program from the King's College Chapel, Cambridge, empty save for technicians, the organist and director, boy choristers and members of The King's Singers, standing in for undergraduate senior choir members in quarantine because of exposure. (Apparently, you'll need to click on the "Watch this video on YouTube" link that comes up when you activate the preview in order for this to play.)

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.

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.

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.

Angels and Archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His Mother
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.

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