The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Of A Rose, A Lovely Rose

For Christmas

Words and Music: Traditional English
Bodleian Library. MS. Eng. poet. e. 1. XV Century

Compare: Of A Rose, A Lovely Rose (Chambers & Sidgwick)

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 9.

Of a rose, a lovely rose,1
And of a rose I sing a song2

1. Hearken to me, both old and ying,
How a rose began to spring;
A fairer rose to my liking
Sprang there never in kinges land.

2. Six branches are on that rose beam,
They be both bright and sheen;
The rose is called Mary, heaven's queen,
Of her bosom a Blossom sprang.

3. The first branch was of great might,
That sprang on Christmas night.
The star3 shone over Bethlehem bright,
That men might see both broad and long.

4. The second branch was of great honour,
That was sent from heaven's tower;
Blessed be that fair flower,
Break it shall the fiendes bonds.

5. The third branch wide spread,
Where Mary lay in her bed;
The bright star three kinges led
To Bethlehem, where that branch they found.

6. The fourth branch sprang into hell,
The fiendes boast for to fell,
There might no soule therein dwell,
Blessed be that time that branch sprang.

7. The fifth branch was fair in foot,
It sprang to heaven, top and root,
There to dwell and be our bote4
And yet is seen in priestes hands.

8. The sixth branch by and by,
It is the five joys of mild Mary.
Now Christ save all this company,
And send us good life and long!


1. Rickert notes that there are two versions, differing slightly. She does not give the second version. But see below. Return

2. Rickert writes that where I have used the MS. heading, sometimes as here a couplet, as a title, it it printed without capitals. Return

3. Rickert gives: "MS. streme = sterne?" Return

4. Per Rickert: Help. Return

Editor's Note:

Other versions of this carol on this website:

There are other carols on this web site with similar first lines or burdens, although they have very separate themes and lyrics, including:

"Listen, Lordings, Both Great and Small" (Burden: A, a, a, a, Nunc gaudet ecclesia):

"Listen, Lordings, both leve and dear" (Nowell, -ell, both Old and Young):

"Listen, Lordings, Both More and Less" (Burden: Puer nobis natus est de Virgine Maria)

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.