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WorksChoral MusicMixed Chorus with accomp.In the Bleak Midwinter (arr.)

In the Bleak Midwinter (arr.)
SATB chorus, 2 soloists, piano or harp

(see what's in the new second edition in the Performance Notes)

Text: Christina Rossetti (modified), John Andrew Storey (v. 2)
Tune: Gustav Holst
Duration: 5:45 min.
Commissioned by: Ruth Palmer
Dedication: Dedicated to one of pure heart, hope and joy.
Premiere: Dec 9, 2007; Unity Choir; Unity Church-Unitarian, Saint Paul, MN
Published by: Abbie Betinis Music Co., AB-047-02


  REVIEWS (Click to view/hide)
"This is a lovely, atmospheric setting . . . Betinis crafts some beautiful moments. . . shifting from voice part to voice part. The two soloists' duet takes us into new territory while the choir hums the familiar carol and it comes to a serene conclusion. Medium difficulty."
- Philip Brunelle. Excerpted from "The American Organist: Choral Old and New" (Dec 2010).
"For the national reading session, I recommended In the Bleak Midwinter, Betinis, SATB, s.a. solos, piano: Building upon the Holst melody, a divisi accompaniment is created in harmonizing parts. The piano accompaniment is harp-like and the two soloists provide an innocence over the choir hum[ming] in the last verse. Great for teaching line and phrasing."
- Karen Fulmer, NW-ACDA R & S Chair. From "Creative Planning and Programming for High School Choirs."

"Abbie Betinis does a superb job of resetting a traditional Christmas hymn. She is able to transform what is a simple strophic work into something filled with emotion and beautiful text painting. The work uses a combination of imitative counterpoint, ostinato, and homophony. The work is not overly difficult for what it is able to accomplish in sounds and textures and will be a rewarding experience for any choir to perform."
- Benjamin Schoening, WCDA R & S Chair (2-Year Colleges). From Melisma Magazine (Spring 2012).

  LISTEN (Click to view/hide)

BYU Singers 2008-2009; Ron Staheli, conductor; Jared Oaks, piano; Solos by Aubrey Brinkerhoff (soprano) & Michelle Broadbent (mezzo).

  COMPLETE TEXT (Click to view/hide)
In the Bleak Midwinter Poem by Christina Rossetti, John Andrew Storey (modified A. Betinis)
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.

Christ a homeless stranger,
so the gospels say,
cradled in a manger
and a bed of hay;
in the bleak midwinter,
a stable place sufficed,
Mary and her baby, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
May have thronged the air,
Shepherds, beasts and wise men,
May have gathered there,
But only his mother
In her tender bliss
Blessed this new redeemer
With a kiss.

What can I give you,
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 I can I give you:
Give my heart.

I give my heart...

Verse 1 by Christina Rossetti, verse 2 by John Andrew Storey, verses 3 & 4 by Rossetti, modified A. Betinis. These texts are in the public domain, and may be reprinted from this website for use in concert programs and for promotional use as related to this musical work.

  PERFORMANCE NOTES (Click to view/hide)
If you have a first edition of "In the Bleak Midwinter" (AB-047-01) don't worry -- you can still use it! With a few quick notes to your choristers, you can bring your first edition up to date. Click here to see the full list of changes & corrections in the second edition.

PERFORMANCE IDEAS FROM ABBIE (not printed in any edition -- just ideas that I like)
m.22, alto:Alto II: double Alto I on beats 1-2 (then split off)
m.22, etc, alto:add slight hairpins: cresc two beats/decresc two beats (so altos I & II are all phrasing, but with opposite hairpins)
m.38, tenor:change half note bt 3-4 to: quarter note on bt 3, quarter rest on bt 4
m.40, tenor:change half note "babe" to dotted quarter + eighth rest
m.40, alto:add cresc bts 1-3; change bt 4 quarter note to eighth note-eighth rest.
m.41, sop & alto:sing "-sus" (of "Je-sus") on bt 4 instead of bt 3
m.46-47, sop & alto:Sop I & Alto I only (or perhaps Sops I + II only) for thinner texture
m.47, sop & alto:hold & decresc through bt 2 (i.e. change measure to half note, half rest)
m.48, sop:tutti
m.49: alto:tutti
m.61, alto:Alto II double Alto I bts 1-2 (like m.22)
m.63, all:add "Poco Rit" on bts 3-4
m.64, all:add "A Tempo"
m.64, tenor:add decresc after f
m.77-78, chorus:draw dotted slurs (NB)


duet voice type: Please feel free to 'cast' various voice types in the duet (m.65-83), sung in their octave. I've heard so many combinations now (Tenor/Alto; Tenor/Baritone; Soprano/Baritone; Boy Soprano/Alto) and each combination inspires such intimacy and character.

children's choir: I've heard some beautiful performances that bring in children's choir for the opening verse (they could actually sing through m42 - on their own or doubling sopranos). They can quietly exit the stage after that first verse, or they can sing again at the humming chorus (m.64-79), and perhaps also double SA "I give my heart" at the end.

language: Last year I received a beautiful request from a conductor abroad wanting to experiment with translating the lower voice in the duet (m.65-83) into another language spoken in her community -- showing the possibilities of intercultural generosity in the words "I give my heart." Yes yes yes!


Abendmusik Chorus - Lincoln, NE
Acadia University Chorus - Wolfville, NS, CANADA
Amabilis Singers (Ramona Luengen, conductor) - Burnaby, BC, CANADA
American University of Beirut Chamber Choir - Beirut, LEBANON
Ames Chamber Artists (James Rodde, conductor) - Ames, IA
Arizona Repertory Singers (Thomas E. Lerew, conductor) - Tucson, AZ
Aurora University Chorale (Lisa Fredenburgh, conductor) - Kenosha, WI
Bagaduce Chorale - Blue Hill, ME
Bel Canto Company - Greensboro, NC
Bellevue Chamber Chorus (Fredrick Lokken, conductor) - Bellevue, WA
Billings Symphony Chorale - Billings, MT
Boulder Chorale - Boulder, CO
Butler Chorale - Indianapolis, IN
BYU Singers (Ron Staheli, conductor) - Provo, UT
Camerata d’Amici - South Salem, NY
Canandaigua Academy Chorus - Canandaigua, NY
Cantamus Women's Choir (Iowa State) - Ames, IA
CANTARE Houston - Houston, TX
Capital University Choirs (Lynda Hasseler, conductor) - Bexley, OH
Chamber Singers of Keene - Keene, NH
Chancel Choir of St. Paul United Methodist Church (Jim McFarland, conductor) - Louisville, KY
Chancel Choir of St. Paul's Episcopal Church - Pittsburgh, PA
Century College Choir (Jocelyn Kalajian, conductor) - White Bear Lake, MN
Chesapeake Chorale - Bowie, MD
Chicago Temple Choir - Chicago, IL
Choir of East Side Lutheran Church (Glenyta Hanson, cond.) - Sioux Falls, SD
Choir of First Church Guilford - Guilford, CT
Choir of First Unitarian Church of Portland - Portland, OR
Choir of First Unitarian Society of Madison (Dan Broner, conductor) - Madison, WI
Choir of Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church - Pittsburgh, PA
Choir of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church - Marblehead, MA
Choir of St. John's Episcopal Church - Minneapolis, MN
Choral Arts Ensemble (Michael Culloton, cond.) - Rochester, MN
Choral Arts of Southern New Jersey (Andrew Bowling, conductor) - Woodbury, NJ
Chorus pro Musica (Betsy Burleigh, conductor) - Boston, MA
Christina Pinzon and family - Clarendon, NY
Church of Jesus Christ of LDS Manteca Stake Choir - Manteca, CA
Cloquet High School Concert Choir - Cloquet, MN
Clovis Community Chorus - Jacksonville, FL
Collingswood High School Concert Choir (Cristen Introcaso, conductor) - Collingswood, NJ
Columbia Chorale (Emily Edgington Andrews, conductor) - Columbia, MO
Community Church of Joy Celebration Choir - Glendale, AZ
Concordia Choir of Concordia University Irvine - Irvine, CA
Concordia University Texas: University Choir (Joshua Chai, conductor) - Austin, TX
Corvallis Repertory Singers - Corvallis, OR
Dallas Chamber Choir (Jon Le Culpepper, conductor) - Dallas, TX
de Profundis (David Poole, conductor) - Albuquerque, NM
Des Moines Choral Society - Des Moines, IA
Dordt College Concert Choir (Benjamin Kornelis, conductor) - Sioux Center, IA
Elektra Women's Choir (Morna Edmundson, conductor) - Vancouver, BC, CANADA
Euphony Chamber Choir - Old Town, ME
Faith Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir - Georgetown, KY
Foothills Chorale (Bill Diekhoff, conductor) - Central, SC
Friedrich-Spee-Chor, Trier (Jan Wilke, conductor) - Trier, GERMANY
Friedrich-Spee-Chor, Trier (Jan Wilke, conductor) - Luxembourg City, LUXEMBOURG
Friends University Singing Quakers (Mark Bartel, conductor) - Wichita, KS
Genesee Valley Orchestra & Chorus - Fairport, NY
Grace Lutheran Church Choir - Champaign, IL
Grand Valley State University Arts Chorale - Allendale, MI
Great River Chorale (Mary Kay Geston, conductor) - Saint Cloud, MN
Greenville College Choir, IL (Jeff Wilson, conductor) - Greenville, IL
Hendricks Chapel Choir - Syracuse, NY
Highland Camerata, Macalester College (Eugene Rogers, cond.) - St. Paul, MN
Illumni Men's Chorale - Seattle, WA
Indiana University of Pennsylvania Chorus (James Dearing, conductor) - Indiana, PA
Indianapolis Men's Chorus (Greg Sanders, conductor) - Indianapolis, IN
International Vocal Artists of Bangkok - Bangkok, THAILAND
Jeffrey Trambley & Hatsue Nakamura - Tokyo, JAPAN
Jubilate Singers - St. Paul, MN
Kent State University Chorale - Kent, OH
Kenyon-Wanamingo High School Choir - Kenyon, MN
Kleiner Chor - Iowa City, IA
Lafayette College Choir - Easton, PA
Lake Travis High School Choir - Austin, TX
Lincoln Civic Choir (William Wyman, conductor) - Lincoln, NE
Los Angeles Master Chorale (Jenny Wong, assistant conductor) - Los Angeles, CA
Luminescence Chamber Choir - Forrest, AUSTRALIA
Luther College Nordic Choir - Decorah, IA
Lyric Arts Ensemble - Mercer Island, WA
Macalester Plymouth United Church Chancel Choir (Brad Bradshaw, conductor) - St Paul, MN
Madrigalia (Lee Wright, conductor) - Rochester, NY
Magnum Chorum - St. Paul, MN
Mason City High School Concert Choir - Mason City, IA
Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh, PA
Millikin University Choir - Decatur, IL
Monmouth Chorale (Lee Kesselman, cond.) - Monmouth, IL
Musicorum - Mankato, MN
New Classic Singers (Lee Kesselman, conductor) - Glen Ellyn, IL
NIU Chamber Choir - DeKalb, IL
Northampton Bach Choir - Hardingstone, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Northern Arizona University Shrine of the Ages Choir - Flagstaff, AZ
Nova Singers (Laura Lane, conductor) - Galesburg, IL
Oakwood High School Chorus (Rich Brunner, conductor) - North Hollywood , CA
One Voice Mixed Chorus (MN ACDA Conference) - Mahtomedi, MN
Oral Roberts University Chorale (Edward Pierce, conductor) Tulsa, OK
Pacific Lutheran University: The Choir of the West - Tacoma, WA
Philadelphia Singers - Philadelphia, PA
Presb. Church of Chestnut Hill (Mark Anderson, cond.) - Philadelphia, PA
Reading Session: ACDA Eastern Div. Community Chorus - Providence, RI
Reading Session: Iowa (ICDA) Summer Symposium (Connor Koppin, presenter) - Mason City, IA
Ripon College Choral Union (John C. Hughes, conductor) - Ripon, WI
Riverside Brookfield HS Madrigal Singers - North Riverside, IL
San Antonio Chamber Choir - San Antonio, TX
San Dimas High School Choir - San Dimas, CA
Seattle Choral Company (Freddie Coleman, conductor) - Seattle, WA
Seraphic Fire - Miami, FL
Shoals Chamber Singers - Sheffield, AL
South Bend Chamber Singers (Nancy Menk, conductor) - Notre Dame, IN
South Metro Chorale (Richard Carrick, conductor) - Prior Lake, MN
Southern Chorale (Georgia Southern University) - Statesboro, GA
St. Joseph Community Chorus (Elise Hepworth, conductor) - St. Joseph, MO
St. Michael and All Angels Cathedral Choir (Matt Hill, conductor) - Kelowna, BC, CANADA
The Alma College Choir - Alma, MI
The Concordia Singers & The University Singers - Austin, TX
The Frederick Chorale - Frederick, MD
The Master Singers - Eau Claire, WI
The Northwestern Choir - Saint Paul, MN
The Phipps Center for the Arts Festival Chorus (Thomas Dahle, cond.) - Hudson, WI
The Singers--Minnesota Choral Artists - Minneapolis, MN
Thunder Bay Arts Council Chorus, MI
Tiroler Landestheater Chor - Innsbruck, AUSTRIA
Two Rivers Chorale - Edina, MN
Unity Choir (Ruth Palmer, conductor) - Saint Paul, MN
University High School Concert Choir (Chris Corpus, conductor), IL
University of Oklahoma Women's Chorus - Norman, OK
University of Arizona Symphonic Choir (Thomas Lerew, conductor) - Tucson, AZ
University of Central Missouri Concert Choir - Warrensburg, MO
University of Manitoba Singers - Winnipeg, MB, CANADA
University of North Georgia-Gainesville Chorale - Gainesville, GA
University of St. Thomas Chamber Singers - Minneapolis, MN
USC Thornton Chamber Singers - Los Angeles, CA
UW-Oshkosh Chamber Choir (Carl Chapman, conductor) - Oshkosh, WI
UW-Platteville Concert Choir - Platteville, WI
Valborgkoor (Árpád Schermann, conductor) - Zeist, NETHERLANDS
Valley City State University Singers - Valley City, ND
Virginia Chorale - Norfolk, VA
Voces Solis - Carnegie, PA
Vox Humana (David N. Childs, conductor) - Dallas, TX
Wartburg College Kantorei - Waverly, IA
West Milford High School Concert Choir - West Milford, NJ
Wheaton College Men's Glee Club - Wheaton, IL
Whitman College Chorale (Riikka K Pietilainen-Caffrey, conductor) - Walla Walla, WA
Young Harris College Chamber Choir - Young Harris, GA
Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota (Garrett Lathe, conductor) - Saint Cloud, MN

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