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The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Words and Music Bring Light and Warmth to Winter

December 9, 2020

We have finally arrived at winter. It’s a moment to honour a season that includes a variety of important celebrations including Chanukkah, Christmas and the Solstice. The latest Words of Connection opens with a universal prayer for the season. This is followed by a diverse collection of quotations and proverbs all about winter from the four corners of the earth. After this we have two very different poems dedicated to the season. The first is a wry joke — it was written by Thomas Hood during the 19th Century and is every bit as valid today, in 2020. The second is by the Welsh poet and playwright, Gillian Clarke. We close with something very different, a mystical 18th Century poem by an unknown writer, which is now best known as a Christmas carol.

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree is one of those carols where the words are as special as the music. Various composers have set it to music, but the definitive version has to be Elizabeth Poston’s, which is in a class of its own. There are many recordings of this carol, but the link we have attached today is elegant and simple. I hope you enjoy it. Here it is:

If you have any readings or messages that you would like to share, please use my personal email:

Take care and stay well and warm, and above all, look after yourself.
Very best wishes,

Chair IFCG


Stephanie Christopher

The overcast sky
Reminds us of the pleasure to pray
That we may be onlookers
To the icy wind and rain
And the troubles of the season,
While inside we turn to the warmth
And so, overcome this time of darkness.

The season of gloom cloaks us
And we pray for those
that suffer at this time.

Now is the moment to remember
That in the darkest hour,
There is always radiance
In the heart of angels
And we also seek that light
And so, overcome this time of darkness.

But it is the uncertainty
That tests our faith
And so we pledge
We will meet the icy wind and rain like old friends;
Honour the illumination of the spirit of devotion;
We will light the candle of compassion
And share heartfelt hopes…
Kindling the spirit of kindness…
And so, melt winter’s cold and sorrow
Like ice under the sun.

So, let us give thanks to the radiance
That lights our way;
Walking the path
Of the Divine spirit of love that cares for us all
Each and every one of us;
Every day
In every season
And for all time.




No animal, according to the rules of animal-etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter.
Kenneth Grahame

The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.  Gary Zukav

It is never winter in the land of hope. Russian Proverb

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.  Lewis Carroll

You have summer and you have winter — why, then, be in a hurry? Russian Proverb

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home. Edith Sitwell

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter…. In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. John Burroughs

A kind word warms for three winters. Chinese Proverb

Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o’clock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.   Thomas De Quincey

True friendship does not freeze in the winter. German Proverb





Thomas Hood (1799 – 1845)


No sun—no moon!
No morn—no noon—
No dawn—
No sky—no earthly view—
No distance looking blue—
No road—no street—no “t’other side the way”—
No end to any Row—
No indications where the Crescents go—
No top to any steeple—
No recognitions of familiar people—
No courtesies for showing ’em—
No knowing ’em!
No traveling at all—no locomotion,
No inkling of the way—no notion—
“No go”—by land or ocean—
No mail—no post—
No news from any foreign coast—
No park—no ring—no afternoon gentility—
No company—no nobility—
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,


Gillian Clarke


The dreamed Christmas,
flakes shaken out of silences so far
and starry we can’t sleep for listening
for papery rustles out there in the night
and wake to find our ceiling glimmering,
the day a psaltery of light.

So we’re out over the snow fields
before it’s all seen off with a salt-lick
of Atlantic air, then home at dusk, snow-blind
from following chains of fox and crow and hare,
to a fire, a roasting bird, a ringing phone,
and voices wondering where we are.

A day foretold by images
of glassy pond, peasant and snowy roof
over the holy child iconed in gold.
Or women shawled against the goosedown air
pleading with soldiers at a shifting frontier
in the snows of television,

while in the secret dark a fresh snow falls
filling our tracks with stars.





The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I’m weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.