Harold Darke’s In the Bleak Midwinter, originally made famous by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, for SATB Choir with Organ accompaniment. There are two popular settings of Christina Rossetti’s In the bleak mid-winter— Gustav Holst’s, which appears in the standard hymnals and carol collections, and . Harold Darke’s nostalgic In the bleak midwinter has been a mainstay of the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (broadcast worldwide on Christmas Eve.

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Harold Darke ‘s anthem setting of is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world’s leading choirmasters and choral experts in 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.

What can I give Him, Poor as I am? In verse one, Rossetti describes the physical circumstances of the Incarnation in Bethlehem. In verse two, Rossetti contrasts Christ ‘s first and second coming. The third verse dwells on Christ’s birth and describes the simple surroundings, in a humble stable and watched by beasts of burden. Rossetti achieves another contrast in the fourth verse, this time between the incorporeal angels attendant at Christ’s birth with Mary ‘s ability to render Jesus physical affection.


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The final verse shifts the description to a more introspective thought process. Hymnologist and theologian Ian Bradley has questioned the poem’s theology: The heavens, even the highest ddarke, cannot contain you. Similar language is used in II Peter 3.

That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” NIV.

The text of this Christmas poem has been set to music many times, the most famous settings being composed by Gustav Holst and Harold Edwin Darke in the early 20th century. Holst’s setting, “Cranham”, is a hymn tune setting suitable for congregational singing, since the poem is irregular in metre and any setting of it requires a skilful and adaptable tune.

The hymn is titled after Cranham, Gloucestershire and was written for the English Hymnal of The Darke setting, written in while he was a student at the Royal College of Musicis more advanced. Each verse is treated slightly differently, with solos for soprano and tenor or a group of sopranos and tenors and a delicate organ accompaniment.

Darke served as conductor of the choir during World War II.

In the Bleak Midwinter – Wikipedia

Darke also repeats the last line of each verse. Darke would complain, however, that the popularity of this tune prevented people from performing his other compositions, and rarely performed it outside of Christmas services.


Benjamin Britten includes dar,e elaborate five-part setting of the first verse for high voices combined with the medieval Corpus Christi Carol in his work A Boy was Born. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Darke – In the Bleak Midwinter for Brass Septet

For the film of the same name, see In the Bleak Midwinter film. For the mystery novel of the same name, see In the Bleak Midwinter novel. Gustav Holst’s tune, Cranham.

Retrieved 26 November In the bleak midwinter”. This Is Our Song: In the Bleak Midwinter by Harold Darke arr. In the Bleak Midwinter.

Retrieved from ” https: Christmas carols Poetry by Christina Rossetti. Webarchive template wayback links Articles with hAudio microformats. Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited on 24 Decemberat By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Gustav Holst’s tune, Cranham Four verses arranged for congregational singing. Problems playing this file? Wikisource has original text related to this article: