One of our favorite Christmas carols combines floral, biblical, and solstice references with sumptuous 17th century German choral music.
If we were playing crosswords, the clue might say: “Germany’s solstice flower carol?” or “Anthem for flower-power German Christmas Child?”
Playfulness aside, this is one of our favorite Christmas carols. Ever.
Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen
Written in 15th century Germany, the text to “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” (“Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen”) is based on a biblical verse, referencing the lineage of the promised child as a branch growing out the stem and roots of Jesse.
The birth of the promised one, now referred to as a blooming rose, occurs during the Winter Solstice (“Amid the cold of winter, When half spent was the night”).
While the composer of the melody is unknown, the gorgeous harmony is attributed to German composer Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) in 1609.
Watch and Listen
Enjoy these stunning arrangements of the carol: one sung in German by a small group of male vocalists, another in English by a mixed voices university choir. Listen for “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” on our Holiday Classical Mix and Pops Holiday Party streams.
The King’s Singers perform “Es ist ein Ros’ Entsprungen” for a “Christmas Presence” program, recorded live at King’s College, Cambridge.
Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, conducted by Andrew Clarke, sings “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” in front of a live studio audience, in this outtake from WGBH’s ‘Tis the Night with Ben Folds & Friends.