So there are a few different genres of holiday songs, right? You have your traditional Christian Christmas carols. You have your more modern vocal celebrations of Santa, Rudolph, Frosty and mischievous chipmunks with extraordinarily high-pitched voices. You have your songs that celebrate the snowy weather. You have songs lamenting the absence of ones you truly want to be with on holidays. What I like about the recent slate of holiday songs that I’ve been listening to is that artists aren’t afraid of any of them, and sometimes an unusual take on a song will give you a newfound sense of it.
One of my favorite songs I found this year while making my mixtape was one of these second look songs. For some reason I had not listened to “In the Bleak Midwinter” much, or hadn’t paid much attention to it at least. Versions I heard were always too dirge-y, choir-y, or otherwise not interesting to me. Even weirder still, I didn’t even know it was a Christian hymn. Sorry, big Christian friends. To make it better…sing it, boys!
We didn’t sing this song at Catholic church growing up, so without a review of the lyrics, I assumed it was of the Pagan celebrate the winter type of songs. Wrong! But I’m gonna go ahead and hold on to the fact that the song makes me think of the beauty I see when I look at birds in bare trees in December. The Christmas song I want to spotlight here today helps me do just that. So for today, I have a cover of “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Sam Airey, a singer/songwriter from Leeds, who sings the first and last verses of the traditional carol, then adds a verse of his own at the end, which he calls “If You Get Lonely this Christmas,” which flows so nicely from the last verse of the original.
He looks like he’d sing a good Christmas song, right?
You can find this song on the great compilation For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas from 2010. And here he is singing it live this past Monday night. Between two disembodied heads, just like you were there!
His final verse ties the song together beautifully. “But I’m not saying you have to do the same for me.” That’s kinda the point at this time of year, right?
It’s still fall for a few more days, but the sentiment stands. We’re in the darkest days of the year, friends, and I live in Seattle so I know me some dark. I hope you and yours are making it brighter.