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White Winter Hymnal

Fleet Foxes

Album Fleet Foxes

“White Winter Hymnal” is the second track from the debut self-titled album from American indie folk band Fleet Foxes. Released in July 2008 through Bella Union, “White Winter Hymnal” is Fleet Foxes’ most streamed track on Spotify.

The song’s lyrics and themes seem fairly abstract, drawing influence from old fairytales in its rhythm, lyrics and language. The same verse is repeated throughout the song, and  references seasons to describe death, the “following the herd” mentality and a lack of abundance to life. Lead vocalist of Fleet Foxes Robin Peckinold spoke to Daytrotter about the track:

“This is the first song on the LP, it’s lyrically fairly meaningless I guess but it’s not really meant to mean something. As an introduction to the record, we thought it would be nice to start it with a simple jam that’s focussed on singing – on the record it starts with a tongue-in-cheek harmony thing that we hoped would make people laugh or something but I think it just confuses them. This is my favorite song to play live, though singing it live is sometimes difficult because the lyrics are so vague. Weird how that works!”

The music video for “White Winter Hymnal” was released via the band’s YouTube channel on the 8th July 2008. Directed by Sean Pecknold, the video is a claymation (clay animation) story of a man who uses a cog to control night and day, while other men also take turns to turn the cog. As of the 17th August 2021, the video has over 22.7 million views and 182 thousand likes.

Read the lyrics to “White Winter Hymnal” here. 

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Release Date

21st July 2008


Robin Pecknold


Phil Ek


Bella Union

Chart Rankings

"White Winter Hymnal" failed to reach mainstream charts, however the song does have Silver certification in the United Kingdom, as well as over 175.3 million global streams on Spotify.

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