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  • Kevin Reigner

In the Bleak Midwinter

Winter landscape with a sky of blues and purples

The other day, I was listening to some holiday music, and I heard the song In the Bleak Midwinter come on. There was just something about the song that caused me to pause and really lean into the lyrics. A couple nights later, I was watching The Crown on Netflix and there was a very moving scene where King George VI joined in singing with a small group of carolers, and they were singing none other than In the Bleak Midwinter. As if that wasn’t enough, I recently downloaded for KING & COUNTRY’s Drummer Boy album and my son wanted to play it and - you guessed it - the song he picked was In the Bleak Midwinter.

When things happen in threes, I know I better pay attention. This is a song that I don’t really recall hearing often over the years, so I had to do a little dive into the song and its lyrics.

The song was actually a poem written by Christina Rossetti in 1872 titled A Christmas Carol. In 1906, part of the poem was set to music and added to the English Hymnal, bringing greater attention to Rossetti’s words. Then again, in 1909, another composer created a rendition of the song which became one of the most widely performed songs. Even as recently as 2008, the song was voted one of the best Christmas carols by choirmasters and chorale experts.

For me - there was a beautiful mix of complexity and simplicity in this song. The hard part was trying to understand why this song would cause me pause - what was the song “trying to tell me?” The answer was quite simple.

What can I give him?

Poor as I am

If I were a shepherd

I would give a lamb

If I were a wise man

I would do my part

But what I can I give him

Give him my heart

Give him my heart

from the song, ”In the Bleak Midwinter”

When I stop to think about God, my relationships with him, and what I can offer Him in return for what He has done for me, I can get in my own way and complicate things. But it is actually quite simple and is right there in the final words of this poem and song. What can I give Him? I can give Him my heart. He doesn’t need a giant offering, he doesn’t need the most hours volunteered, and he certainly doesn’t want me to wait and hold out until the “right moment” or a “better time.” He simply wants us to know Him and love Him - no matter where we are in life.

What does giving God your heart look like for you?

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