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In the bleak mid‑winter

Language: English

 In the bleak mid-winter
 Frosty wind made moan;
Earth [stood]1 hard as iron,
 Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
 [Snow on snow]2,
In the bleak mid-winter
 [Long]3 ago.

[Our God,]2 heaven cannot hold Him,
 Nor earth sustain,
[Heaven and earth shall flee away]2
 When He comes to reign:
[In the bleak mid-winter
 A stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty --
 Jesus Christ.]2

Enough for Him whom Cherubim
 Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk,
 And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him whom Angels
 Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
 Which adore.

Angels and Archangels
 May have gathered there,
Cherubim and Seraphim
 Thronged the air;
But only His Mother
 In her maiden bliss
Worshiped the Beloved
 With a kiss.

What can I give [Him]4
 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]2 what I can I give Him, --
 Give my heart.

Translation(s): FRI GER

List of language codes

M. Trotta sets stanzas 1-2, 5
S. Wilkinson sets stanza 1
B. Britten sets stanza 1

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Scribner's Monthly, January 1872
1 Trotta: "grew"
2 omitted by Trotta.
3 Trotta: "Long, long"
4 omitted by Walton?

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

This text (or a part of it) is used in a work

Available translations, adaptations, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRI Frisian (Geart van der Meer) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:47

Line count: 40
Word count: 168

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Tief im kalten Winter

Language: German (Deutsch) after the English

Tief im kalten Winter
brach ein Sturm herein;
Erde lag wie Eisen.
Wasser wie Gestein;
Schnee ging nieder, bergeschwer,
Schnee auf Schnee lag schwer,
tief im kalten Winter
lang ist’s her.

Nicht fassen kann der Himmel, 
nicht halten Ihn die Erd’,
Erde, Himmel wird vergeh’n,
wenn Gott wiederkehrt:
tief im kalten Winter
ein Stall die Herberg’ ist
dem Herrn in Seiner Allmacht,
Jesus Christ.

Genug für Ihn, dem Cherubim
huldigen allzeit?
Ihm ward nur die Brust
und der Krippe Heu bereit;
genug für Ihn, dem Engel
sind sonst Geleit,
wenn Ochs, Kamel und Esel
Ihm zur Seit’?

Engel und Erzengel
fänden sich sonst ein,
Cherubim’ und Seraphim’
endlose Reih’n.
Doch nur seine Mutter
Ehre Ihm erweist:
Selig sie das Kindlein
küsst und preist.
Was kann ich schenken,
arm, der ich bin? -
Wäre ich ein Hirte,
gäb’ ein Lamm ich hin,
wär ich klug, dann wüsst' ich’s,
fänd’ es anderwärts.
Doch was ich kann, das schenk’ ich -
schenk’ mein Herz.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

About the headline (FAQ)


  • Singable translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2014 by Bertram Kottmann, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.

    Bertram Kottmann. Contact:
    <BKottmann (AT)>

    If you wish to commission a new translation, please contact:
    licenses (AT) lieder (DOT) net
    (licenses at lieder dot net)

Based on
  • a text in English by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830 - 1894), "A Christmas Carol" FRI
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Benjamin Britten, Harold Edwin Darke, Gustav Holst, Leonard J[ordan] Lehrman, Bruce Montgomery, Mick Swithinbank, Michael John Trotta, Stephen Wilkinson. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2014-12-30 00:00:00.

Last modified: 2014-12-30 15:47:29

Line count: 40
Word count: 161