Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
Lo! How a rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse’s lineage coming as saints of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.
As the daughter of an elementary school music teacher and a Minister of Music, it’s no surprise that I grew up with a love for Christmas music. My parents spent a lot of time throughout the year choosing Christmas music for their choirs, and teaching my brother and me how to understand the meaning of musical lyrics. One of my favorite Christmas hymns has always been “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming”.
This 1582 German Catholic hymn was originally written about Mary, but the Protestants began to change the focus to Jesus through new translations over the years. The hymn expresses the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ. There’s emphasis placed on Jesus’ lineage through the Tree of Jesse, who was the father of King David. The rose is a reference to the Virgin Mary and how she gave birth to Jesus.
There are so many Christmas hymns that are songs of praise and celebration. This hymn is a bit more melancholy. The celebration here is in the knowledge that Christ’s birth brings life out of death.
Through Isaiah’s prophecy, we were given God’s son to show His love by sending us a Savior. Though he comes to us in the flesh, Jesus is “very God”. He brings light to take away the darkness, and in his death, He saves us. Although there is some sadness in the knowledge of what comes at Easter, this hymn is meant to celebrate the eternal life we are ultimately promised. “True man, yet very God, from sin and death he saves us and lightens every load.” There is no greater gift.
— Cathy Isom