The Doctor Told Me To



It’s 7.40 on Tuesday night… almost 36 hours post-op from RH carpal tunnel repair. This whole affair, once begun, has been less traumatic than I expected… less painful, less life-altering (so far, anyway)… I’m grateful.


So I played a little piano tonight, because the Doctor said the best therapy is exercises that mimic the muscles used in piano playing. “Why do those, when you can play instead?” he said. So I did. And in case this was The Last Hymn I’d ever play, if something dramatic had gone wrong, I wanted it to be a really good one, fitting for the day, the time. With good harmonies, to boot. So this is what I played:

In The Bleak Midwinter

Christina Rosetti, lyric, Gustav Holst, music.

In verse one, Rossetti describes the physical characteristics of the Incarnation.
In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
Snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

In verse two, Rossetti contrasts Christ’s first and second coming.
Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God incarnate,
Jesus Christ.

The third verse dwells on Christ’s birth and describes the simple surroundings, in a humble stable and watched by beasts of burden.

Enough for him, whom Cherubim
Worship night and day
A breast full of milk
And a manger full of hay.
Enough for him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
which adore.

Rossetti achieves another contrast in the fourth verse, this time between the incorporeal angels attendant at Christ’s birth with Mary’s ability to render Jesus physical affection.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But his mother only,
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

The final verse may be the most well known and loved. 

What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what can I give Him —
Give my heart.

Sung to the Holst tune, of course..


Christ’s stunning incarnation, contrasted with the bleakness of a grey winter’s day… or, perhaps, the bondage in which we all live without Jesus. Into this bleak midwinter He came. He comes still. And brings peace. I am so grateful.

Thanks Wikipedia.

7 thoughts on “The Doctor Told Me To

  1. Ahhh, that final verse is the one my five year old just memorized for the church’s children’s Christmas program. I think perhaps I’m the one still saying it in my sleep……

    And YAY for piano therapy 🙂

    Take care!

    Tammy ~@~

  2. Crescent – thanks for saying hello. I wish my blog was as funny as yours. I can just hear Jan reading Rosetti! Tell her hello for me. It’s almost time for us to put the lights on the tree, isn’t it? 🙂

  3. Oh, Steph, I am so thankful that everything has gone so well. What a mercy. What a situation for trust: a pianist having surgery on her hands. It’s very hard to imagine a life not playing the piano, isn’t it?

    In the Bleak Midwinter will always be a favorite of mine.

    Poignant story: My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Christmas Eve. Five of my siblings gathered around the next Sunday at his church in Iowa (he & my stepmother moved after we were all grown up). My brother, the tenor, sang In the Bleak Midwinter in the church service, a capella, but overcome by emotion couldn’t make it through the last verse. My father had been sitting behind him on the platform, came up to him and just held him while he sobbed. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. My dad died seven weeks later.

    Thus, I always get a bit choked up. But it is a beautiful piece.

  4. So glad to hear your surgery went well! Praise the Lord you are playing again!

    Our kids sang In the Bleak Midwinter in a couple different children’s choirs–so beautiful.

    A blessed Christmas to you and yours!!


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