In the Bleak Midwinter, arr. (SSAA)

SSAA chorus, s.a. solos, piano

Dedicated to "one of pure heart, hope and joy," this arrangement of Gustav Holst's tune is a sweet, lyrical gem for women's chorus. A glittering piano paints a vast snowy landscape at first, but steadily provides more support as a solo (or soli) emerges for the first verse. Chorus parts divide to layer "snow on snow" then grow to welcome the "homeless stranger" (secular text by John Storey). Two soloists descant in the final, touching verse, singing: "What can I give you?" Score could easily accommodate children's voices (v1 & 4), or even congregational or audience humming in last verse.

Order Sheet Music
Catalog Number: 
Commissioned By: 
Kathleen Rodde for Cantamus
Premiere Ensemble: 
Premiere Conductor: 
Kathleen Rodde

For the national reading session, I recommended . . . "In the Bleak Midwinter" (Betinis): Building upon the Holst melody, a divisi accompaniment is created in harmonizing parts. The piano accompaniment is harp-like and the two soloists provide an innocence over the choir hums in the last verse. Great for teaching line and phrasing.
- Karen Fulmer, NWACDA Repertoire & Standards High School Chair. From "Creative Planning and Programming for High School Choirs."

Text Author or Source: 
Christina Rossetti (modified), John Andrew Storey (v. 2)

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.

Christ a homeless stranger,
so the gospels say,
cradled in a manger
and a bed of hay;
in the bleak midwinter,
a stable place sufficed,
Mary and her baby, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
May have thronged the air,
Shepherds, beasts and wise men,
May have gathered there,
But only his mother
In her tender bliss
Blessed this new redeemer
With a kiss.

What can I give you,
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 you:
Give my heart.

I give my heart...

Verse 1 by Christina Rossetti, verse 2 by John Andrew Storey, verses 3 & 4 by Rossetti, modified A. Betinis. These texts are in the public domain, and may be reprinted from this website for use in concert programs and for promotional use as related to this musical work.