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Songs of the Season: In the Bleak Midwinter

Winter Solstice – the longest night, hinge of the year…

Considered one of the finest carols by choirmasters and choral experts, this song is not so well-known by the general public, at least here in United States – but it’s one of my favorites, and the version from Windham Hill’s “Winter’s Solstice” series is particularly fine, one of the absolute gems on those collections …

Pierce Pettis, “In the Bleak Midwinter” – from A Winter’s Solstice III

While I like that very much and it is where I first recall hearing “In the Bleak Midwinter,” there are a huge number of other versions out there. Some of the artists who’ve covered this carol in versions that are available now include: James Taylor, Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin, Loreena McKennitt, King’s College Choir, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, The Moody Blues, John Fahey, Julie Andrews… and the list goes on.

Shawn Colvin had one big radio hit with “Sunny Came Home” from her 1996 album A Few Small Repairs, but she has a released a number of other fine albums (and both a live and a studio album last year) including Holiday Songs And Lullabies, which includes another fine version of this carol…

Shawn Colvin, “In the Bleak Midwinter” – from Holiday Songs And Lullabies

Loreena McKennitt included it on A Midwinter Night’s DreamThe Indigo Girls sing it on their just released album of holiday music,  Holly Happy Days, it’s on Christmas with the Academy from The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (one of my favorite classical music recording artists), and Julie Andrews recorded a version for her 1982 album of Christmas songs (listen here – look for the play button).

“In the Bleak Midwinter” also appears on an EP of the same name by a Christian black/death metal band from Sweden, Sanctifica – but there is no way I am going to try listening to it [here] – I hate the Swedes.  Just kidding – I’m not a fan of metal, actually, and somehow death metal doesn’t seem like what I look for in my holiday music.

I’ve assembled a small collection of some of the versions available on the interweb, good and bad, for your listening pleasure.

For more…

Filed under: Song of the Day, , ,

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows


is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

tweeting my mind



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