Text:Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Translator (st. 1-2):Theodore Baker
Translator (st. 3):Gracia Grindal
Harmonizer:Michael Praetorius
Media:MIDI file

351. Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

1 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.

2 Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
the rose I have in mind;
with Mary we behold it,
the virgin mother kind.
To show God's love aright
she bore to us a Savior
when half spent was the night.

Text Information
First Line: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
Title: Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Translator (st. 1-2): Theodore Baker (1894)
Translator (st. 3): Gracia Grindal (1978)
Meter: 76 76 676
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Isaiah; Biblical Names & Places: Jesse; Biblical Names & Places: Mary (4 more...)
Source: German, 15th cent.
Copyright: st. 3 © 1978, Lutheran Book of Worship. Used by permission of Augsburg Publishing House
Tune Information
Harmonizer: Michael Praetorius (1609)
Meter: 76 76 676
Key: F Major
Source: Alte Catholische Geistliche Kirchengasäng, Cologne, 1599

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1-2 = Isa. 11:1, Isa. 35:1-2, Luke 1-2, Matt. 2
st. 3 = John 1

This “Twelfth Night” German carol from the Rhineland region combines the story of Luke 1-2 and Matthew 2 with Isaiah's prophecies about the "rose" from the "stem of Jesse " (Isa. 11:1; 35:1-2). Stanzas 1 and 2 are a combination of folklore ("amid the cold of winter") and Christological interpretation of Isaiah 11:1 and 35: 1-2. Stanza 3 introduces imagery from John 1.

Originally "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen," the carol may date back to the fifteenth century. However, the earliest manuscript containing the text, found in St. Alban's Carthusian monastery in Trier and preserved in the Trier munici¬pal library, is dated around 1580. It was first published with twenty-three stanzas in Alte catholische geistliche Kirchengesiinge (Cologne, 1599). Originally stanza 2 interpreted the "rose" as being Mary, mother of Jesus. But in Musae Sionae (1609) Michael Praetorius changed the interpretation to point to Christ as the rose in accord with actual biblical imagery. In that hymnbook Praetorius published only stanzas 1 and 2.

The English translation of stanzas 1 and 2 in the Psalter Hymnal are by Theodore Baker (b. New York, NY, 1851; d. Dresden, Germany, 1934) and are possibly from anthem setting published by G. Schirmer, Inc., in 1894 when Baker was music editor there. Baker is well known as the compiler of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (first ed. 1900), the first major music reference work that included American composers. Baker studied music in Leipzig, Germany, and wrote a dissertation on the music of the Seneca people of New York State–one of the first studies of the music of American Indians. From 1892 until his retirement in 1926, Baker was a literary editor and translator for G. Schirmer, Inc., in New York City. In 1926, he returned to Germany.

Stanza 3 is a translation by Gracia Grindal (b. Powers Lake, ND, 1943), originally published in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). Grindal was educated at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota; the University of Arkansas; and Luther-Northwestern Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, where she has served since 1984 as a professor of pastoral theology and communications. From 1968 to 1984 she was a professor of English and poet-in-residence at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. Included in her publications are Sketches Against the Dark (1981), Scandinavian Folksongs (1983), Lessons in Hymnwriting (1986, 1991), and We Are One in Christ: Hymns, Paraphrases, and Translations (1996). She was instrumental in producing the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and The United Methodist Hymnal (1989).

Liturgical Use:
Advent and the Christmas season; useful as a response to the Isaiah 11 passage, especially in services of lessons and carols or "carols from many lands."

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

First published with the text in the Cologne Gesangbuch of 1599 (see above), ES IST EIN ROS is a rounded bar form tune (AABA). The tune has characteristics of a Renaissance madrigal; it invites performance by an unaccompanied choir so that all the fine part writing and subtle rhythms can be clearly heard. ES IST EIN ROS is also a fine congregational tune or a children's choir anthem. Sing in unison with delicate accompaniment. Be sure to articulate carefully on the organ or piano those repeated melody tones.

The revised text and new harmonization by Michael Praetorius (b. Kreutzburg, Thuringia, Germany, 1571; d. Wolfenbiittel, near Brunswick, Germany, 1621) turned "Lo, How a Rose" into a beautiful and popular hymn. Born into a staunchly Lutheran family, Praetorius was educated at the University of Frankfort-an-der-Oder. In 1595 he began a long association with Duke Heinrich Julius of Brunswick, when he was appoint¬ed court organist and later music director and secretary. The duke resided in Wolfenbüttel, and Praetorius spent much of his time at the court there, eventually establishing his own residence in Wolfenbüttel as well. When the duke died, Praetorius officially retained his position, but he spent long periods of time engaged in various musical appointments in Dresden, Magdeburg, and Halle. Praetorius produced a prodigious amount of music and music theory. His church music consists of over one thousand titles, including the sixteen-volume Musae Sionae (1605-1612), which contains Lutheran hymns in settings ranging from two voices to multiple choirs. His Syntagma Musicum (1614-1619) is a veritable encyclopedia of music and includes valuable information about the musical instruments of his time.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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