February is a challenging month for many people who live in the northern hemisphere. It may be the month for celebrating love and family, and it may be the shortest month, but it often is the dullest month of the year, too – the month that brings to life the C.S. Lewis quotation: “Always winter, never Christmas.”
I want to encourage you to consider this text by the English poet Christina Rossetti. Victorian and pre-Victorian English hymnists loved to make references to the weather; one might think they assumed that December weather was the same in England as it was in Palestine! Often, this text is sung only at Christmas, since it appears in the Christmas section of most hymnals (and its text is filled with the nativity). It definitely fits the Christmas theme, but perhaps in February, which is the really bleak mid-winter, we do well to revisit this classic text:
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.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped 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.
Here’s a link to listen to this text, with a more delightful English choral tune than is often found in most hymn books.
“As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night” (Genesis 8.22, NLT).