See Amid The Winter's Snow

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  Luke: 2:8-11

With so many carols, anthems and hymns to choose from during the Christmas Season, it is often difficult to select a favorite(s). Having said that, I have found my (new) favorite, which we will be singing this Sunday, December 15th at 11:00am. See Amid the Winter’s Snow, based on Luke: 2:8-11, was originally written as a poem by Edward Caswall, an Englishman who lived from 1814 to 1878. 

Caswall, an Anglican clergyman and hymn writer, wrote this piece as a poem in 1858 including it in his The Masque of Mary and Other Poems published that same year. The poem was set to the tune “Humility” composed specifically for this piece by Sir John Goss in 1871 and was published nationwide in the hymn book “Christmas Carols Old and New.”  This carol is also known as “Hymn for Christmas Day” and “The Hymn for Christmas”

Sir John Goss who lived from 1800 to 1890, was an English organist, composer and teacher. He began as a boy chorister at the Chapel Royal in London, became organist at St. Luke’s Church, Chelsea and eventually organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. Sir John also wrote the well-known hymn, Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven.   

In 2016, Dan Forrest arranged this carol for choir, piano, and orchestra. Recently, I asked Dan what his thoughts were when writing this arrangement, his response was “I’ve always loved that text and tune, and just tried to “paint a scene” musically for the listener, that evoked the text.”

As with most musical compositions, each person has his or her own interpretation or “mental picture” of what they are hearing. For me, Dan’s arrangement begins with the use of wind chimes to denote the forming of icicles, he then brings in the cymbals to represent the blowing of the wind, followed by the piano painting the falling snow.

The treble voices singing Alleluia are the angels praising God, followed by the shepherds spreading the Good News, which then resolves to all voices singing Alleluias. Praise God for the gift of music that brings us such wonder and Joy!

Until next time….See you in the Choir Loft!


(This blog post was written by a contributor and the comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.)