12 Days of Christmas Carols- Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

rosa“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” is a German hymn first printed in 1582.  Written anonymously under the title “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,” this song originally had about 19 stanzas.  As we’ve seen, those Germans really love their long songs.  In 1599 they even bumped it up to 23, but these days it’s usually trimmed down to 5 or 6.  A lot of hands have been involved in the transmission and translation of the words to the hymn.  In the 19th cent., Theodore Baker gave us the first two stanzas in English, translating from the German original.  Friedrich Layritz wrote two more stanzas around the same time, and these have been translated by Harriett R. Spaeth.  John C Mattes added another stanza in 1914.  Catherine Winkworth even got involved by translating a variant version of the hymn.  There were so many different options because of all those earlier stanzas, quite a bit of source material I’d say, and because of the fact that this hymn has been theologically redacted in a big way.  Most of us assume the “Rose” is Jesus.  That’s how our current English versions present it, and I bet you’ve never thought a thing about it.  But that’s actually not what the original meant.  You see, the Rose used to be Mary! Continue reading