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Peter Mayer’s Midwinter

Several months ago, I was browsing through the music section at one of my favorite thrift stores when I stumbled across an unusual looking Christmas album. Rather than the glossy, glowy sheen of most holiday album covers, this album had a simple, stark, black and white photograph of a winter pine, accompanied by the title Midwinter. Intrigued, I opened the liner notes, and was surprised to discover that one of my favorite singer-songwriters, David Wilcox, was mentioned in the acknowledgments and was involved in the project.

Midwinter, by Minnesota singer-songwriter Peter Mayer, works in the same vein as Sting’s If On A Winter’s Night…, in that it explores both holiday specific tunes and themes of the winter season in general. What sets this album apart is Mayer’s beautiful lyricism, which is on display immediately in the opening track “Stables”:

In Bethlehem a manger waits  Long ago and so today  Where hatred-weary people pray  Love will come and lay there 

And so do countless stables stand  In hearts as harsh as desert lands  Rough shelters in the wind and sand  That love may come and stay there 

Love that opens fists of hate  Heaps up gold on beggars’ plates  Love that shows a kindly face  To enemies and strangers 

And the walls of stables tremble so  When the winds of fear and judgment blow  For a stable hopes in love alone  And knows that love’s the answer 

O Love, the prophet’s only word  The only lesson left to learn  The only end of heaven’s work  And the only road that goes there 

Love that sees with mercy’s eyes  Holds its arms out open wide  Threads its loom with separate lives  And weaves them all together 

So may the lamps of stables glow  Brightly that their light may go  For miles in the darkness, so  Love will find its way there 

In “The Houses of Winter” Mayer poetically meditates on both the warmth and harshness of the darkest season of the year. Another song that stands out for me is the spiritually themed “God Is A River”, which sounds like it could’ve been written by our own Andrew Peterson.

If you’re looking a holiday/winter album a bit off the beaten track this year, I’d highly recommend Peter Mayer’s Midwinter.


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