Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Christmas Rose

Est ist ein Ros entsprungen

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
Aus einer Wurzel zart;
Als uns die Alten sungen,
Aus Jesse kamm die Art,
Und hat ein Blümlein bracht,
Mitten im kalten Winter,
Wohl zu der halben Nacht.

This Christmas carol and Stille Nacht are the best known and best loved of German carols. This verse was written first, dating from at least the 16th Century, and subsequent poets from different branches of Christianity have written additional verses to it, each poet writing a different hymn from the same root.

You can hear Bach's setting of the poem here, sung by the Ottawa Bach Choir:

We have all sung the words of the first, original, verse so many times, but what do they mean?

The Ros symbolically is Mary, and the tender root from which she has sprung is the root of Jesse. Aus Jesse kamm die Art. The root from which Mary has sprung is also the root of Judaism, from which all of Christianity has sprung. And how did this come to pass? It came to pass because God chose to become man, and Mary, the rose who had sprung from the root of Jesse, chose to be the handmaiden of the Lord, and thus through the Holy Spirit brought forth the Blümlein, the little bud, which is the Christ Child.

The Christ Child, God incarnate, Savior of the Nations, of all the nations, is the little bud brought forth by Mary, who sprung from the tender root of Jesse.

German paper Christmas roses are symbols of Jesus, Mary, and the root of our Faith.

In Germany, for all these reasons, Christmas trees are often decorated with paper roses.