This poem , The Bleak Midwinter was written in 1872 by Christina Rossetti. It was first used as a hymn in the English Hymnal of 1906, where it appeared with a tune composed by Gustav Holst, "Cranham," written for this poem.
The Winter Solstice falls on December 22nd this year, the day the sun is the lowest in the southern sky. The exact time is 05:30 GMT. Solstice celebrations have been among the most important festivals since ancient times. The days grew shorter and shorter until the Solstice when the sun began to rise again. The light brings hope and the promise of plenty.
"The most exciting thing in Orkney, perhaps in Scotland, is going to happen this afternoon at sunset, in few other places even in Orkney can you see the wide hemisphere of sky in all its plenitude.
The winter sun just hangs over the ridge of the Coolags. Its setting will seal the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. At this season the sun is a pale wick between two gulfs of darkness. Surely there could be no darker place in the be-wintered world than the interior of Maeshowe.
One of the light rays is caught in this stone web of death. Through the long corridor it has found its way; it splashes the far wall of the chamber. The illumination lasts a few minutes, then is quenched
Winter after winter I never cease to wonder at the way primitive man arranged, in hewn stone, such powerful symbolism."The poet George Mackay Brown on midwinter at Maeshowe.
A 4700 year old structure built so that the passageway points directly towards sunset on the Winter Solstice.
This day brings renewal and with it, an opportunity to renew ourselves. The transition from dark to light is the perfect time to examine motivations and goals. What changes can we make so that our lives will run more smoothly? This is the ideal time for resolutions.