The Advent Calendar of Literature: Day 13

In yesterday’s advent calendar post, we shared a little fact related to an enduring Christmas carol. Today, another Rossetticarol-related fact – though this time, involving one of the Victorian era’s leading poets.

Christina Rossetti (1830-94), the prolific Victorian poet, is perhaps most famous for writing ‘Goblin Market’. Except that that isn’t her most famous poem. Her most famous poem is not principally known as a poem, nor is it as widely known that Rossetti was the writer of it.

This is because Rossetti wrote the words to the Christmas carol ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. It was written some time prior to 1872 when Scribner’s Monthly magazine requested a Christmas-themed poem. But it was only published in 1904, ten years after Rossetti’s death. Shortly after this, in 1906, it became a musical piece, one of the most popular Christmas carols. The first musical accompaniment for Rossetti’s poem was the work of none other than Gustav Holst, the British composer most famous for the Planets suite.

But it is Harold Darke’s setting of 1909 that is probably more familiar to people around the world.

You can hear a performance of the carol here.

Image: Portrait of Christina Rossetti by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1866), public domain.


  1. Pingback: 24 Amazing Literature Facts for Christmas | Interesting Literature

  2. Sincerely better without it sung. But it’s good the sung hides the originator of the poem.

  3. I prefer the Darke tune though I’ve probably heard it sung less often.