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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sabbath Keeping

The past few days have been, somewhat, bleak. Skies have been gray, cloud cover low, no sunshine but plenty of snow, ice, sleet and, sometimes, a mixture of all three. All these conspire to remind me of my favorite carol hymn, In The Bleak Midwinter, a poem written by Christina Rossetti in the late 1800's and set to music in the early twentieth century by Gustav Holst.

Every water bucket has been frozen solid, the water trough with the de-icer had ice two to three inches thick and I didn't even go to the far pasture. The last time that tank froze, it was about five inches thick and much too difficult for me to chop. It's also too far for an electrical line so can't use a de-icer to keep the water from freezing. Yes, I think this qualifies as bleak.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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 I can I give Him —
Give my heart.
Her poem is heart rendering but when set to music is totally wrenching. I never tire of reading nor listening and think my favorite version is by the King's College Choir. I was blessed to see them in concert once and my life is still fuller for the experience.

Sarah Brightman, another favorite, sings this song on her first Christmas/holiday album, A Winter Symphony, released in Nov 2008. Other favorites she sings are Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring and I Believe in Father Christmas.

Jars of Clay recorded their version and I hope to hear it one day. I saw them on a Christmas special last month and thoroughly enjoyed their concert.

I adore music, Christmas music especially and listening to uplifting music is never tiresome. There's another Christmas song I like, one by Ertha Kitt called 'Santa Baby' and done in a style that will never be duplicated. Fact is, she did this one so well, others would do well to not try at all because 1. they will fail and 2. it's just w.r.o.n.g. Ertha Kitt owns 'Santa Baby'; others cannot even pay rent.

Today was the warmest day since mid-week last week; it warmed up to 31 above zero and a lot of ice and snow melted. Tonight, it's snowing again and we're supposed to get three inches of snow. The wind is quiet as are the animals; we're all regrouping and regaining strength for whatever weather this new week brings. My three old gentlemen sheep are struggling in this cold; their appetites are weak and they aren't eating their treats of corn and gain. I keep giving them good alfalfa hay and that's helping but only for a while. They have lived good, long lives, far longer than most sheep and have never lacked for anything. I only wish the rest of the world could say the same; Dave and I can't save everyone or everything so we make sure the animals here are well, happy and healthy. If only for a while, we make sure guests have a safe place here with good, nourishing food and protection from the outside world. We try to 'do unto others as we would have them do unto us', we share our blessings and find we are blessed.

Blessings ~ bleak days because they serve to remind me of the sunshine ~ stirring poetry ~ beautiful music ~ the strength to do the work God has set before me ~ snow because it means water for a thirsty earth ~ a good sleep ~


  1. I absolutely love that hymn too!

  2. That is my FAVORITE Hymn. It always brings me to tears, it's so beautiful.


  3. You and Dave are doing all anyone can do for your animals, and I find it touching how in the Old Testament, God gave clear guidelines and commands for humane care of the animals He created. Yes, most are intended for food, but most definitely should live lives in the ownership of kind-hearted people before a humane death.

    I had a ewe finally pass on at 17 years of age and I had owned her for 15 years.

    Beautiful hymn....and pretty descriptive of your place now, huh?

  4. affectioknit - it's one of the most beautiful, I think.
    shiborigirl - tears and tears and tears. when I think of the words, more tears; when I hear the music, more tears.
    KathyB - oh gosh...I will hand feed the old fellows and when Shaddie, the Ridgeback manages to totter down to the barn, she'll still wash their faces for them. What a sight...old sheep, standing patiently, waiting their turn to have their faces washed by a hound! BTW, Shaddie will be 13 in a few weeks...very old for her breed.
    I've always said TCF has a unicorn flying overhead to bring in the wayward, stray and lost animals. Unicorns are their patron saint.

  5. Lovely words that for sure fit this bitter cold winter.


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