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.

Chris is an Associate Professor of English at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts, and is an arts and culture writer whose works have appeared in publications such as Tweetspeak Poetry, The Curator, The Molehill, and The Rabbit Room. Chris is also the author of several books of poetry, including his latest collection Winter Poems. In 2018 he helped co-found The Poetry Pub, an online community for poets. He enjoys walking in the woods, visiting coffee shops, and poking through used bookstores with his wife Jen. You can read more of his writing at


  1. Clay Clarkson

    I first heard Peter Mayer back around 2000 here in CO and became an instant fan. One of his signature songs is “Holy Now” an acoustic folk insight on faith and “miracle” (So the challenging thing becomes / Not to look for miracles / But finding where there isn’t one). Thanks for the reminder about Peter’s music. I’m headed now to order “Midwinter.”

  2. Kirsten

    This is so wonderful.  I can’t help but think, too, that this song is begging to be graced by the incomparable voice of Jill Phillips. I would just loooove to hear her on this melody.

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