Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming

Christ's coming to a cold and sinful world was as
miraculous as a rose blooming in the winter snow.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming." I find it next to impossible to sing this song without shedding a few tears.

The song is quite old. The lyrics were penned by an unknown author and first appeared in print in the late 16th century.

The song begins by talking of the beauty and tenderness of a blooming that came in the cold of a winter night.

As a rule, growing things do not live in the winter. The frost kills tender plants. Even hearty plants and trees lose their leaves or die back to ground level. The warmth and light of the sun revive them in the spring.

Along came a rose.

If I stepped into my yard this December (northern Minnesota) and noticed that one of my rose bushes had come into bloom, it would be startling. Completely unexpected. And altogether thrilling.
That is what the birth of Jesus was. It had been 400 years since the nation of Israel had heard from God.[1] It was a spiritual winter. Almost like the Narnia of C.S. Lewis, where it was always winter but never Christmas.

Into the drought, into the silence of 400 years, came the Christ - one born as a rose in winter. You would think a rose bursting into bloom in the cold of winter would be treasured and deemed precious. Hard as it may be to understand, this rose was not treasured. This rose was cut off and trampled on the frozen ground.

But the rose of this song isn't just any rose. It is a rose "e're blooming," with "e're" being a contraction of the word "ever." Most roses die when they are cut off. Not this rose. Although He was cut off, after three days, this rose sprang forth in greater glory.

The sweet lyrics.

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.

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

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.

I would write more, but I think these lovely words say it all, and say it best.

[1] There were four hundred years between the close of Malachi and the coming of John the Baptist. For more see:

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