In the Bleak Midwinters

Which is better, Holst or Darke? It doesn’t matter in this arrangement that uses both settings in a unique impressionistic variation.

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The lyrics to this favorite carol were published under the title A Christmas Carol, in the January 1872 issue of Scribner’s Monthly.

The first musical setting of the words is found in The English Hymnal, published in 1906 with a setting by Gustav Holst suitable for congregational singing.

Harold Darke composed an anthem for the poem in 1911, which is more complex than the version composed by Holst. In the Darke setting, each verse is treated slightly differently. Darke takes some liberties with Rossetti’s words, repeating lines and omitting verses. Darke intended for his setting to be an anthem performed by choirs instead of for congregations.

This arrangement is an unusual impressionistic combination of both settings. James L. King III switches between each composer’s setting every two measures.

Key: G Major

Mood: lyrical, misty

Pedagogy: impressionistic style, pedal, dynamics, rubato


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