In The Bleak Mid-Winter

By: Gustav T. Holst
For: String quartet
page one of In The Bleak Mid-Winter

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Composer
Gustav T. Holst
Year of composition
1905
Arranger
Difficulty
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
Duration
2 minutes
Genre
Classical music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

Gustav Holst's "In the Bleak Midwinter" (1905) is a hymn specifically composed for congregational singing. Throughout his career Holst advocated writing music for the masses, as well as for the musically astute; therefore, much of the composer's repertoire ? including hymns, music for military band, and numerous songs ? was written with the amateur musician in mind. Many of these "lighter" compositions have stood the test of time because even though they are made of relatively simple stuff, they still bear the mark of Holst's careful and loving craftsmanship.

Around the beginning of 1905, a group of clergymen created a committee with the purpose of updating the hymn book called Hymns Ancient and Modern. This hymnal was considered to be old-fashioned, so new hymns were to be added. Percy Dearmer, a fellow clergyman and professor of Ecclesiastical Art at King's College in London, was named chairman of this committee. Ralph Vaughan Williams was decided upon to be the music editor, whose task was to make all final decisions on which hymns would be added. Vaughan Williams was skeptical of this duty, but accepted the post upon being promised that the work required would only take two months. In actuality, the project wasn't completed until two years later. With Holst aiding in the editing process, Vaughan Williams looked to include "the finest hymn tunes in the world." Folk tunes and traditional songs would be added, as well as songs by earlier English composers, such as Thomas Tallis. English composers of the time were invited by Vaughan Williams to create new hymns for the updated hymnal. It was soon evident that the addendum would be comparable in size to the original hymnal, so it was decided that an entirely new hymn book would be produced, under the title of The English Hymnal. Holst composed three original hymns based on previously gathered folk tunes for this new volume. In the Bleak Midwinter is set to text by Christina Rossetti and the folk tune used is known as the "Crantham," named after the town in which it was collected. It is believed that Holst actually composed the hymn while staying in this village for a short amount of time, and a cottage in the village was eventually named Midwinter Cottage.

Another new hymnal was created in the mid-1920s, entitled Songs of Praise. Once again Dearmer and Vaughan Williams teamed up to manage the hymnal's creation. In the Bleak Midwinter was also included in this new hymn book, as well as a number of other Holst hymns. The hymn was one of Holst's most popular compositions during his lifetime and remains to be well known and often performed.

This arrangement is for standard string quartet, with an optional bginner's third violin part, and bass part for use with string orchestra.

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String Serenade - 2. Waltz, The Barber of Seville - Overture, Brandenburg Concerto No.3 - 1. Allegro, Symphony No.29 - 4. Allegro con spirito, Brandenburg Concerto No.3 - 2. Adagio - Allegro, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 2. Rondeau, Of The Father's Love Begotten, The Holly And The Ivy, The Cannon Ball Rag, La Damnation de Faust - Rakoczy March, Swan Lake - Dance of the Cygnets, Pavane, Op.50, Morning Has Broken, Water Music Suite No.2 in D, Brandenburg Concerto No.5 - 1. Allegro, Symphony No.25 - 2. Andante, The Nutcracker - Overture, Habanera from "Carmen", Orchestral Suite No.2 - 4. Bourree I and II, Orchestral Suite No.3 - 4. Bourree, The Gladiator March, Slavonic Dance, Op.72 No.2, Birthday Minuet, The High School Cadets, Kinderszenen, Op.15 No.11 Furchtenmachen (Frightening), Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 3. Adagio, O Christmas Tree, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 7. Badinerie, The Manhattan Beach March, Gradual, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, The Stars And Stripes Forever, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 6. Theme and variations, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 "The Wedding March", Trio No.1, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 3. Sarabande, Children's Corner, No.6 The Golliwog's Cake-Walk, Trio No.3, Serenade No.10 , The Merry Wives of Windsor - Overture, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 "The Wedding March", Symphony No.29 - 3. Menuetto, Trumpet Tune, Deck The Halls, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks, Who Let The Cows Out?, Brandenburg Concerto No.5 - 3. Allegro, Who Let The Cows Out? - For Sax Quartet (AATB), Song Without Words No.45 - Scherzo Op.102 No.3, Song Without Words No.30 - Spring Song Op.62 No.6, Song to the Moon, from "Rusalka", Sonata in A, KV 331 - 2. Menuetto and Trio, Sonata in A, KV 331 - 1. Andante grazioso (Theme and variations), Sonata "Pathetique" Op.13 - 2. Adagio cantabile, Sonata "Pathetique" Op.13 - 1. Grave - Allegro, Sleepy Sidney, Si. Mi chiamano Mimi, from "La boheme", Sextet: Chi mi frena, from "Lucia di Lammermoor", Semper Fidelis, Radetzky March, Op.228, Preludes, Book 1 No.8 - The Girl With The Flaxen Hair, Piano Sonata No.14 "Moonlight" - 2. Allegretto, Ode To Joy, O soave fanciulla, from "La boheme", Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix, from "Samson et Dalila", Minute Waltz, Op.64 No.1, Lullay My Liking, Lohengrin - The Bridal Chorus, Little Jesus, Sweetly Sleep, Largo al factotum, from "The Barber of Seville", La Marseillaise, L'Estate ("Summer") - 2. Adagio, Presto, L'Estate ("Summer") - 1. Allegro non molto, L'Autunno ("Autumn") - 3. Allegro, King Cotton, Key-Stone Rag, Joy To The World, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, I Got The Blues, Holberg Suite - 2. Sarabande, Good King Wenceslas, God Save The Queen, El Capitan, Duet: Sous le dome epais, from "Lakme", Concerto for Two Violins "L'estro armonico" Op.3 No.8 - Movement 3, Concerto for Two Violins "L'estro armonico" Op.3 No.8 - Movement 1, Chanson Triste, Op.40 No.2, Chanson de Matin, Brook Green Suite - 3. Dance, Bethena - A Concert Waltz, Ave Maria, Op.52 No.6, Anvil Chorus, from "Il Trovatore", A Thousand And One Nights, A Cyclone in Darktown, Symphony No.29 - 2. Andante, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 - Nocturne, Symphony No.25 - 3. Menuetto, Symphony No.40 - 4. Allegro assai, The Marriage of Figaro - Overture, A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.61 - Scherzo, The Flight of the Bumble Bee, Once in Royal David's City, Symphony No.29 - 1. Allegro moderato, Babes in Toyland - March of the Toys, Rosamunde - Ballet Music No.2, Silent Night, Serenade No.10 "Gran Partita" - 2. Menuetto; Trio 1; Trio 2, William Tell - Overture, I Saw Three Ships, Symphony No.40 - 1. Allegro molto, Brandenburg Concerto No.6 - 2. Adagio ma non tanto, Slavonic Dance, Op.46 No.7, O come, O come, Emmanuel, Symphonie Fantastique - 2. Un Bal, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 1. Overture, Away In A Manger, Orchestral Suite No.2 - 5. Polonaise and Double, Solomon - Act III, Sinfonia "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba", Symphony No.40 - 2. Andante, The Coventry Carol, Symphony No.25 - 4. Allegro, Water Music Suite No.3 in G, Carmen - Act 1: Prelude, Symphony No.40 - 3. Menuetto, Slavonic Dance, Op.46 No.8, O Little Town Of Bethlehem (1), Brandenburg Concerto No.2 - 1. Allegro, O Holy Night and 1812 Overture

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