She reminds us of Christina Rossetti’s words that shape one of our favorite songs:
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.
She then proceeds to share a Ugandan prayer she found, inspired by Rossetti’s words:
In the bleak midsummer, dusty winds made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water dirty brown;
dust was blowing, dust on dust, dust on dust,
in the bleak midsummer, not so long ago.
Our rector is from below the equator, so I appreciate the other prayer she offered. And doubly so, because my mind is always halfway below the equator, with our friends in the Diocese of Lui. When they celebrate Christmas, the weather will be as it is virtually every day: temperature well above 90 degrees and days lasting 12 hours.
Shariya+ continued: ”That prayer served for me as a potent reminder that the task of preparing for the Nativity, and the yearning entailed in such an enterprise, is a global endeavor. Throughout our broken and wounded world, despite anguish and sorrow, in defiance of incredible impediments and obstacles, in the midst of a variety of circumstances and contexts, hearts are readying for the birth of joy.”
For several decades, it has seemed weird to me that we should sing “In the bleak midwinter,” since Jesus was born in a country that surely doesn’t experience bleak midwinter in December. As if we Northern Hemisphere people had the right to define the story!
Still, the hymn moves me. Enjoy it here with the Gloucester Cathedral Choir.