In the Bleak Midwinter (Advent: Day 25)

This worshipful carol was written by Christina Rossetti in the 1800’s. So many of these Advent hymns were written in the 1800’s and earlier. If you read Sunday’s post, you got a glimpse into what life was like in England back then. Somehow, these older hymns speak louder to me knowing the hardships most people were suffering during the time they were written. I can’t imagine how comforting these hymns were to them during the Christmas season.

Life has definitely gotten better in the 21st century, but there is still so much sorrow and suffering in the world. I have been amazed when talking to people, even perfect strangers, how close their tears are under the surface of an otherwise “smiling face.” Everyone’s pain is just under their smile. Life is hard and the older we get, the more we can appreciate Jesus making all things new.

The word “bleak” is descriptive of how things appear in our lives sometimes. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines this word as “open, vacant; exposed to a free current of air; as a bleak hill or shore. This is the true sense of the word; hence cold and cheerless. A bleak wind is not so named merely from its coldness, but from its blowing without interruption, on a wide waste.” This is the setting of this Christmas hymn.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan. Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone. Snow had fallen, snow on snow; in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Verse 1

Bleakness, hopelessness, hearts hard as ice. This is how Emmanuel found us. The Sunrise from on high shone on this world, and its warmth permeated the cold dark night. This is the heart of our God, the Eternal One wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger. He came to this earth willingly, knowing that He would die a criminal’s death. But for the joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame.

Our God, Heav’n cannot hold Him nor earth sustain. Heaven & earth shall flee away when He comes to reign. In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Verse 2

In Jesus, we see that God’s glory consists not so much in His ability to exalt Himself and humble man, but in His willingness to humble Himself for the sake of man; not so much in a mighty display of power that would break in pieces those that oppose Him, but rather in the hiding of that power and the showing of grace to the underserving when they turn to Him in repentance.

Roy Hession/We Would See Jesus

Jesus came for the spiritually poor and needy. Those who find themselves in the bleak, cold, barrenness of sin. Psalm 12:5 says, “Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise,” says the LORD: “I will set him in the safety for which he longs” (NASB). Psalm 72:13 says, “He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy He will save” (NASB).

When it came to meeting God’s people’s needs as sinners, it had to be Jesus. There was no other way. There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. And God did not withhold Him, He so loved us that He sent Him, the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, to effect by the shedding of His blood a full redemption from sin for us, and as a risen Savior to be continuously all His people need, as sinners – for our need as sinners is continuous, right up to the gates of heaven.

Roy Hession/We Would See Jesus

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 can I give Him? Give my heart.

Verse 5

Love truly came down at Christmas. As we stand in awe of His amazing love for us, we realize our deep poverty, and inadequacy. As we search for something to offer Him, we realize that the only thing we can offer is our very heart. Out of sheer gratitude and humble adoration, we lay our lives down before Him.

Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD. How precious is Your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of Your wings.

Psalm 36:5-7 NLT

Advent Reflections:

1 Read 2 Chronicles 16:9. What is God looking for?

2 Read Ezekiel 36:26. What does God promise to do?

3. Read Psalm 95:6-8. How does this passage encourage us to respond to God?

4. Read Romans 12:1-2. What is our reasonable service of worship?

5. If you have never come to know Christ as your personal Savior, you can give Him your heart right now! If you have any questions about peace with God, click here.

If you already know Him, give your heart afresh to Him this Christmas.

For a beautiful rendition sung by Kristyn Getty, click here.

Click here to watch the choir of Kings College on YouTube.

2 thoughts on “In the Bleak Midwinter (Advent: Day 25)

  1. My favorite Advent hymn for sure. I once had a friend who was not a Christian and she moved away to another state. On a return visit we talked and I was aware that she had changed and I asked her why. She said, “Didn’t you read my Christmas card last year?” I couldn’t remember the card and she quoted verse 5 of this hymn. She said “I was trying to tell you. I gave my heart to Christ.”

    Liked by 1 person

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