This evocative Christmas carol was originally written by Christina Rossetti as a Christmas poem for the American magazine, Scribner’s Monthly. In 1872, it was set to music by Gustav Holst for the 1906 edition of The English Hymnal.
While no one would believe there was actual snow at the birth of Jesus Christ in the Middle Eastern town of Bethlehem, Rossetti uses the poetic imagery of ‘snow on snow’ to symbolize the ‘hard like iron’ hearts of humanity into which our Savior was born, long ago. She goes on to describe how a breastful of milk and a simple manger full of hay were enough for Him, whom the Angels and Archangels fall down before in worship.
I've always been captivated by the sublime beauty within her poem, but it's the very last stanza where my connection and understanding is strongest.
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.
Sources: The Complete Book of Hymns + Wikipedia + FreePik Snowflakes + Photo by Aaron Burden