Sacred Music Sunday: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming (reprint with new arrangement)

This post originally appeared in December 2018 and is being reprinted today with a different arrangement of the hymn.

Black and white picture of hands holding the blossom of a red rose. Public Domain.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming. It’s usually sung a capella, and it’s a simple yet beautiful tune. It’s based out of Messianic text in Isaiah and connects the text to the birth and ministry of Jesus.

In the song, Jesus is represented as a rose. Roses are typically considered feminine, so identifying Jesus with that flower is a reminder that Jesus transcends the man-made gender boundaries that exist in society. Just as there’s no intrinsic reason why roses have to be feminine, there’s no intrinsic reason why power and strength have to be masculine. Jesus embodied all virtues, and as His followers, both female and male, we are to embody all virtues as well.

The stems of roses have thorns on them, sometimes pricking those who try to get to the blossom. In a way, I think that’s a reminder to us that sometimes the church or the people in it might wound us as we try to approach Jesus. But that’s not an indictment of Jesus or His love. Jesus is the blossom, the church is the stem, and the thorns are policies, practices, or people that stab us on the way to our journey to the Rose. At this Christmas season, may we remember that the thorns are not the flower, and may we remove the thorns that keep our fellow people from enjoying the Rose.

The crux of the song comes in the third verse where we’re reminded of the grace and atoning power of Jesus to not only save us from sin but also to strengthen us against our weakness. He knows every pain and every sorrow, every sin, and yet because of His great love for us, He saves us and brings us into the kingdom of God through our relationship with Him.

Lo, 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 flower 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.

O, Savior, Child of Mary,
Who felt our human woe,
O, Savior, 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.


Trudy is a legal professional living in the southwestern US. She has three cats who allow her to live in their house in exchange for a steady supply of food and treats.

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3 Responses

  1. Di says:

    I love the hymn and your thoughts about it.

  2. Mortimer says:

    Beautiful! This is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, ant it? Do you have the citation for the recording? I hear pops, like a record, and the sound is not from the Wilberg era.

    • Trudy says:

      From the Youtube page:

      Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Shaw
      Christmas with Robert Shaw
      Licensed to YouTube by
      Naxos Digital Services US, Inc (on behalf of Allegretto); CMRRA, LatinAutorPerf, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., LatinAutor, Public Domain Compositions, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, Polaris Hub AB, and 8 Music Rights Societies

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