Es ist ein Ros entsprungen

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Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
Christmas hymn
Speyerer Gesangbuch Es ist ein Ros entsprungen.jpg
First printed in the 1599 Speyer Hymnal
Genre Hymn
Occasion Christmas
Language German

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (lit., "A rose has sprung up"), most commonly translated in English as Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming, and sometimes appearing as A Spotless Rose, is a Christmas carol and Marian Hymn of German origin, of varying length and translation, that has its roots in an unknown author prior to the 17th century.[not verified in body] Expressing the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1, the original two verses (to which others have been added, in German and translation since the 19th century) present a narrative of Mary, the mother of Jesus as a rose that has sprung up from the lineage of Jesse, to bring forth the child, "das Blümlein" (lit., the floweret), while remaining pure. The song has been covered repeatedly throughout modern times, e.g., by Mannheim Steamroller on A Fresh Aire Christmas (1988) and Sting on If on a Winter's Night (2009),[not verified in body] and has made its way into a variety of feature film soundtracks, including Love Story (1970) and The Time Traveler's Wife (2009).[not verified in body]


The text is thought to be penned by an anonymous author expressing fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1 The piece first appeared in print in the late 16th century. The hymn has been used by both Catholics and Protestants, with the focus of the song being Mary or Jesus, respectively.[1] In addition, there have been numerous versions of the hymn, with varying texts and lengths. In 1844, the German hymnologist Friedrich Layriz (de) added three more stanzas, the first of which, Das Blümelein so kleine, remained popular and has been included in Catholic hymnals.[2]

The tune most familiar today appears in the Speyer Hymnal (printed in Cologne in 1599), and the familiar harmonization was written by German composer Michael Praetorius in 1609.[1]

The English translation "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" was written by Theodore Baker in 1894.[3] A translation of the first two verses of the hymn as "A Spotless Rose" was written by Catherine Winkworth and this was set as a SATB anthem by Herbert Howells in 1919[1] and Philip Ledger in 2002.[4]

Another Christmas hymn, "A Great and Mighty Wonder", is set to the same tune as this carol and may sometimes be confused with it. It is, however, a hymn by St. Germanus, (Μέγα καὶ παράδοξον θαῦμα), translated from Greek to English by John M. Neale in 1862. Versions of the German lyrics have been mixed with Neale's translation of a Greek hymn in subsequent versions such as Percy Dearmer's version in the 1931 Songs of Praise collection.[5]


German original Literal translation Baker's version Winkworth's version Spaeth's translation with Mattes' 5th verse

[n 1]Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,
aus einer Wurzel zart,
wie uns die Alten sungen,
von Jesse war die Art
Und hat ein Blümlein bracht
mitten im kalten Winter,
wohl zu der halben Nacht.

A rose has sprung up,
from a tender root.
As the old ones sang to us,
Its lineage was from Jesse.
And it has brought forth a floweret
In the middle of the cold winter
Well at half the night.

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.

A Spotless Rose is growing,
Sprung from a tender root,
Of ancient seers' foreshowing,
Of Jesse promised fruit;
Its fairest bud unfolds to light
Amid the cold, cold winter,
And in the dark midnight.

Behold, a Branch is growing
Of loveliest form and grace,
as prophets sung, foreknowing;
It springs from Jesse's race
And bears one little Flow'r
In midst of coldest winter,
At deepest midnight hour.

Das Röslein, das ich meine,
davon Isaias sagt,
ist Maria die reine
die uns das Blümlein bracht.
Aus Gottes ew'gem Rat
hat sie ein Kind geboren
und blieb ein reine Magd.
or: Welches uns selig macht.

The rosebud that I mean,
Of which Isaiah told
Is Mary, the pure,
Who brought us the floweret.
At God’s immortal word,
She has borne a child
And remained a pure maid.
or: Who makes us blessed.

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 half spent was the night.

The Rose which I am singing,
Whereof Isaiah said,
Is from its sweet root springing
In Mary, purest Maid;
Through God's great love and might
The Blessed Babe she bare us
In a cold, cold winter's night.

Isaiah hath foretold it
In words of promise sure,
And Mary's arms enfold it,
A virgin meek and pure.
Thro' God's eternal will
This Child to her is given
At midnight calm and still.

[n 2]Das Blümelein, so kleine,
das duftet uns so süß,
mit seinem hellen Scheine
vertreibt's die Finsternis.
Wahr Mensch und wahrer Gott,
hilft uns aus allem Leide,
rettet von Sünd und Tod.

The floweret, so small
That smells so sweet to us
With its clear light
Dispels the darkness.
True man and true God!
He helps us from all trouble,
Saves us from sin and death.

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

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 a manger found him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flow'r whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness ev'rywhere.
True Man, yet very God;
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens ev'ry load.

O Saviour, Child of Mary,
Who felt our human woe;
O Saviour, King of Glory,
Who dost our weakness know,
Bring us at length we pray,
To the bright courts of Heaven
And to the endless day.

  1. ^ 1599 Speyer version, in modern German
  2. ^ This is the first verse of three added by Friedrich Layriz in 1844.

In music[edit]

The tune was used by Johannes Brahms as the base for a chorale prelude for organ, later transcribed for orchestra by Erich Leinsdorf, and by Hugo Distler as the base for his 1933 oratorio Die Weihnachtsgeschichte (The Christmas Story). Jan Sandström wrote in 1990 Es ist ein Ros entsprungen for two choirs a cappella, which incorporates the setting of Praetorius in choir one. Weihnachtsmusik (1921) for two violins, cello, piano and harmonium by Arnold Schoenberg is a short fantasy on the tune.

In popular culture[edit]

Modern interpretations[edit]

  • Chorale Prelude on "Es ist ein Ros" by contemporary composer Jonathan Santore, 1987.[6]

Some notable performances by contemporary popular artists include:

In film[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Lo How A Rose Eer Blooming - Notes". Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  2. ^ "Gotteslob Online -". Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "Psalter Hymnal (Gray) 351. Lo, how a rose e'er blooming -". Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  4. ^ "Sir Philip Ledger". Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 2011-12-09. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Jul med tradition" (in Swedish). Svensk mediedatabas. 1975. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 

External links[edit]