White Winter Hymnal was first released by the American indie folk band Fleet Foxes in 2008 as the first single from their debut self-titled album. The song was written by group member Robin Pecknold and has been covered by several groups and solo singers including Kim Wilde in 2013 and Pentatonix in 2014.
The meaning behind this song is somewhat open to conjecture. Pecknold has explained that he intended this gently uplifting song to be like “Whistle While You Work” from Snow White – something to hum along to as you do the dishes. Pecknold added that the words actually tell a more painful story about loss of the innocence of youth, being about “my experience when I was a kid, you know, like I had my really tight group of friends. But as we grew up from grade school to junior high to high school, everybody just kind of split off, and everybody kind of changed. I went from like this tight-knit group to, seemingly for no reason, everybody was kind of going their own way. That song is just about that feeling.”
This very accessible arrangement, featuring piano and guitar accompaniment with tambourine percussion, is ideally suited to winter and general programming, and makes an ideal concert opener.