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'Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming'

Lo, a rose is blooming in the snow in December in Duluth. (Photos by Richard Thomas)1 / 2
Photo by Richard Thomas2 / 2

Well into winter, outdoor roses continue to bloom on 10th Avenue East. They are located under heating vents from Northland Medical Center.

Roses blooming in the holiday season bring to mind the hymn "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," a Christmas carol sung by both Protestant and Catholics.

The origins of the hymn may be traced back to a 16th Century German monastery. American musicologist Theodore Baker translated it to English in 1894. The song was featured in the 1971 film "Love Story" and grew in popularity in the late 1980s.

"This is a beautiful and peaceful hymn, but there is just a touch of melancholy in the tune," according to the website hymnary.org.

This Advent and Christmas hymn expresses and acknowledges a particular tension to be aware of during the Christmas season. Just as, in the prophecies from Isaiah, a "rose," or stem, shoots up from the stump, the season celebrates Christ's birth in the knowledge that He brings life out of death.

The lyrics of the first stanza are:

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 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 men a Savior,

When half spent was the night.

Some sources cite the rose as a symbol of Mary to Catholics, while Protestants take the rose to symbolize Jesus.

Many cite Isaiah 11:10 as the inspiration for the lyrics: "There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious."

Sources: United Methodist Church History of Hymns (umcdiscipleship.org), hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com and hymntime.com.

Naomi Yaeger

Naomi Yaeger is a freelance writer and the former editor of the Budgeteer. See her blog at www.DuluthDailyPhoto.com.

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