"Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, aus einer Wurzel zart. Wie uns die Alten sungen, von Jesse war die Art"
Though the text for this ancient and anonymous German hymn may date as far back as 15th Century, it was first printed in manuscript form in the late 16th Century. An important hymn (twenty-three verses long by 1599), it was set to the tune ES IST EIN ROS in 1609 by Michael Praetorious, which predominantly accompanies the text today.
Theodore Baker is credited with translating the first two verses of the hymn to English in 1894. It can be found in Voices United with these two verses only, translated to both English and French.
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming is an Advent carol, a Christmas carol, and a Marian Hymn (hymns where the Virgin Mary is the subject). It presents contrasting, contrary ideas, building tension into our anticipation of the coming Messaiah: blossoms in winter, brightness amid darkness, day following night, fragility and strength, and most importantly, life out of death. In this way, the text points us directly from Advent to Easter, planting an element of sorrow even at this most joyous time of year:
"It came, a flower bright, / Amid the cold of winter / When half-gone was the night."
Questions for Reflection:
- How does the image of a rose reflect what you know of Christ? What other images of Christ resonate more ~ or less ~ for you?
- What does it feel like to be halfway through a long wait for something?
- In what ways might you be a light for others in your community "amid the cold of winter"?