Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, 15th Century
German carol, 23 stanzas
Also: Es ist ein Roess entsprungen and Es ist ein Reis entsprugen
Music: Es Ist Ein Ros, Anonymous, 16th Century
(Arr. by Michael Praetorius, 1609)
(link opens at Cyberhymnal)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF
(These links open at CCEH, the Christian Classic Ethereal Hymnary)
Meter: 76 76 676
Sheet music available at RoDeby Music Company
Sheet music also available from
The Choral Public Domain Library:
Michael Praetorious Setting (1609)
Melchior Vulpius Setting (1615)
The German words were originally inspired by the Song of
"I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys."
Protestants tend to cite Isaiah 11:1, proclaiming a
"There shall come forth a shoot
from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots."
Originally published in 1582 (or 1588) in Gebetbuchlein des Frater Conradus, this 19-stanza Catholic hymn's focus was Mary, who is compared to the mystical rose praised in the Song of Solomon 2:1: "I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys." The hymn is believed to have originated in Trier, and once source stated that on one Christmas Eve, a monk in Trier found a blooming rose while walking in the woods. He placed the rose in a vase, and placed it before the alter to the Virgin Mary. Some sources indicate the hymn might date back into the 14th Century.
By 1609, however, the Protestants had adopted the hymn, and changed its focus from Mary to Jesus (citing Isaiah 11:1). According to Keyte and Parrott, in medieval iconography, the tree of Jesse is often depicted as a rose plant. They also note that it's unclear whether Ros’ (rose) or Reis (branch) was the original reading of line 1. The revision first appeared in Michael Praetorius' Musae Sioniae in 1609. Praetorius is occasionally mistaken as the author.
The words and music appeared with 23 verses in the Alte Katholische Geistliche Kirchengesäng, Cologne, 1599, in the Speirschen Gesangbuch, Cologne, 1599 or 1600, and with six stanzas in Catholische Geistliche Gesange, 1608.
The Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) harmonization is still the version most heard, although other harmonizations have been written, including the one by Melchior Vulpius from 1615. The melody was adapted by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) as the basis for his 1896 chorale prelude: Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (Op. 122, no. 8). Finally, there is the 1919 Herbert Howells' setting of "A Spotless Rose."
The same tune has been used for several other carols and hymns, including A Great and Mighty Wonder, John Mason Neale’s translation of St. Germanus' Greek hymn for Christmas day ("Mega kai paradoxon Thauma" by St. Germanus).
Among the many English adaptations, perhaps the best known is by Theodore Baker (1851-1934), Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming. It was heard as recently as in the 1971 Academy Award winning movie "Love Story."
And here are two poems from Christiana Rossetti celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Whereto shall we liken this Blessed Mary Virgin,
Faithful shoot from Jesse's root graciously emerging?
Lily we might call her, but Christ alone is white;
Rose delicious, but that Jesus is the one Delight;
Flower of women, but her Firstborn is mankind's one flower:
He the Sun lights up all moons thro' their radiant hour.
'Blessed among women, highly favoured,' thus
Glorious Gabriel hailed her, teaching words to us:
Whom devoutly copying we too cry 'All hail!'
Echoing on the music of glorious Gabriel.
Herself a rose, who bore the Rose,
She bore the Rose and felt its thorn.
All Loveliness new-born
Took on her bosom its repose,
And slept and woke there night and morn.
Lily herself, she bore the one
Fair Lily; sweeter, whiter, far
Than she or others are:
The Sun of Righteousness her Son,
She was His morning star.
She gracious, He essential Grace,
He was the Fountain, she the rill:
Her goodness to fulfil
And gladness, with proportioned pace
He led her steps thro' good and ill.
Christ's mirror she of grace and love,
Of beauty and of life and death:
By hope and love and faith
Transfigured to His Likeness, 'Dove,
Spouse, Sister, Mother,' Jesus saith.
The Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated March 25 in the Latin rite. Source: The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, with a Memoir and Notes by William Michael Rossetti (1904), Page 173.
On Oct. 19, 2012, a friend of this site, Jene, wrote:
Ref for lyrics from Speierisches Gesangbuch Koln in 1599, which is the oldest reference according to Father Franz Wasner, Director of the Trapp family singers. They do a version with the Praetorius harmonization which is supremely beautiful and is easier to hear the words from than the equally beautiful rendition of the . Ref: Decca DL 9553.
I am fortunate enough to have a copy of Es ist ein Ros entsprugen by the Trapp Family singers, and I agree with Jene that they do an excellent job on this song. Their voices are both clear and sharp. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of this hymn performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (although I've acquired a couple of copies of "Lo! How A Rose R'er Blooming"). I must confess that I often have a hard time picking out individual words when a large choir performs a hymn or carol, but I assume that my hearing loss is to blame. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, however, is a choir that employs very clear diction.
Translations of Es ist ein Ros entsprungen:
Version 1: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming, From tender stem hath sprung!;
From Jesse’s lineage coming, As men of old have sung.
Theodore Baker (1851-1934) Translation
Version 2: Lo, how a rose e’er blooming, On tender root has grown;
Version 3: I Know
a Rose Tree Springing;
Version 4: Behold,
a Branch is Growing;
Translators: Harriet Spaeth and John Casper Mattes
Version 5: A
Spotless Rose Is Blowing; Alternate Title: The Rose of Sharon;
Translator: Catherine Winkworth
Version 6 : Behold,
a Branch Has Flowered;
Version 7: There Is A Flower
Springing, From tender roots it grows;
Translator: Ursula Vaughan Williams, The Oxford Book of Carols, copyright 1928
Version 8: Of Jesse's Line
Descended, By ancient sibyls sung;
Translators: Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott, The New Oxford Book of Carols, copyright 1992
Version 9: Lo, How A Rose Is
Translation by Gracia Grindal, Lutheran Book of Worship, 58, copyright circa 1978
Version 10: The World's Fair
Rose Has Blossomed,
Translator: Elizabeth Poston, The Penguin Book of Christmas Carols, copyright 1965
Version 11: Lo, A Fair Rose A-Blooming,
Translators: Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, 1909
Version 12: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming / From tender root hath sprung;
To all the world bestowing / What men of old have sung.
Version 13: The Noble
Stem of Jesse
Translator: George R. Woodward
Version 14: I Know A
Flower it springeth, From earth a tender shoot;
Translator: George R. Woodward
A Branch So Fair Has
There Is A Rose Tree Blooming
Translator: Abbie Farwell Brown
Another version was sent to me by a correspondent who represented this to be a Latin version of this carol: Flos de radice Jesse
With A Similar Theme:
There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue (Anonymous, 15th Century).
Ian Bradley, The Penguin Book of Hymns (London: Penguin, 1989)
Cyberhymnal, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen [Accessed July 24, 2004)
Percy Dearmer, et. al., eds., The Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1928)
William C. Egan, The History of Carols
Keyte, Hugh and Andrew Parrott, eds., The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), who provide a literal translation of the 16 German verses which they reproduce.
Keyte, Hugh and Andrew Parrott, eds., The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)
Hymnuts, Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen [Accessed July 24, 2004]
Larry Marietta's Music Notes, Sunday Morning Services at FCCB (First Congregational Church of Berkeley), December 13, 1998
Erik Routley, The English Carol (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959)
Erik Routley, University Carol Book (Brighton: H. Freeman & Co., 1961)
Anne Marsden Thomas, Brahms: Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen
William L. Simon, ed., The Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook (Pleasantville, NY: Readers Digest Association, revised 2003)
William Studwell, The Christmas Carol Reader (New York: Harrington Park Press, 1995)