Monday in the fourth week of Advent: Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming

Our daily Advent poetry installment is inspired by the Isaiah reading in today’s office lectionary. Check below the fold for some truly great musical settings.

Rose of SharonLo, how a Rose e’er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung!
of Jesse’s lineage coming,
as those of old have sung.
It came, a floweret 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 us a Savior,
when half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story
proclaimed by angels bright,
how Christ, the Lord of glory
was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped
and in the manger they found him,
as angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender
with sweetness fills the air,
dispels with glorious splendor
the darkness everywhere;
true man, yet very God,
from sin and death he saves us,
and lightens every load.

Words: stanzas 1-2: German, fifteenth century carol; translated by Theodore Baker, 1894; stanzas 3-4: Friedrich Layritz (1808-1859); translated by Harriet Reynolds Krauth (1845-1925).

Here ’tis: sung in German and some fantastically expressive singing in an old video of Robert Shaw conducting. Enjoy an odd recording, but a decent performance of the Brahms chorale prelude for organ. Finally, my favorite: Hugo Distler’s hauntingly lovely setting.

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