Es ist ein’ Ros’ entsprungen

This is perhaps one of the most beautiful Christmas carols ever written. The hymn was originally written in German in the sixteenth century, and has been translated into English most commonly as “Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming.” The lyrics describe the birth of Jesus Christ from the Virgin Mary compared to a rose revealing the glory of its bud amid the winter snow.

I provide both a German and an English version.

German:

Es ist ein’ Ros’ entsprungen
Aus einer Wurzel zart.
Als uns die Alten sungen,
Aus Jesse kam die Art
Und hat ein Blümlein bracht,
Mitten im kalten Winter,
Wohl zu der halben Nacht.

Es ist ein’ Ros’ entsprungen. (repeated)

Das Röslein das ich meine,
Davon Jesaias sagt:
Hat uns gebracht alleine
Marie, die reine Magd
Aus Gottes ew’gem Rat
Hat sie ein Kind geboren
Bleibend ein reine Magd.

English:

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung.
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
As men of old have sung;
It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

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 men a Savior,
When halfspent was the night.

O Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel in glorious splendour
The darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God,
From Sin and death now save us,
And share our every load.

–German version from the album Christmas Adagios, sung by The Monteverdi Choir.

–English version from the album Go Tell It on the Mountain, sung by the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys (Grace Episcopal Cathedral, San Francisco).

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