The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

This Rose is Railed on a Ryse

For Christmas

Words and Music: English Traditional from Ms. Selden B 26., folio 9v, About 1450

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 11.

Of a rose singè we:
Misterium mirabile.

1. This rose is railed1 on a ryse,2
He hath brought the Prince of price,3
And in this timè sooth it is,
Viri sine semine.

2. This rose is red of colour bright,
Through whom our joyè began alight,
Upon a Christes mass night,4
Claro David germine.

3. Of this rose was Christ ybore,
To save mankind that was forlore,
And us allè from sin its sore,5
Prophetarum carmine.

4. This rose, of flowès she is the flower,
She will not fade for no shower,6
To sinful men she sent succour,
Mira plenitudine.

5. This rosè is so fair of hue,
In maid Mary that is so true,
Yborne was Lord of (all) virgue,7
Salvator sine crimine.


1. Railed = Set Return

2. Ryse = Branch  Return

3. "Prys" (which means 'peace') in Terry. Return

4. "Upon a (blessèd) Christmas night;" in Terry. Return

5. "sinnès sore" in Terry. Return

6. Terry gives the first two lines as:

This rose, of flowerès she is flower
She would not fade in any shower;

7. "Y-born was (He) Lord of virtue." in Terry. Return

Notes from Terry:

Railed = arrayed.

Rys = height, eminence.

Prys = peace.

Y-bore = born.

Forelore = forlorn.

Also found in Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #176, pp. 10-11, citing the words and melody from the Selden MS. (Selden MS. B.26 f.9v), Bodleian Library. Mode VIII. The text from Rickert was slightly edited based on the text in Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols. See sheet music (below).

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #176, pp. 10-11.

176a-Of_A_Rose.jpg (100907 bytes) 176b-Of_A_Rose.jpg (72474 bytes)

Sheet Music from Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #5, pp. 10-11.

AMCB23.jpg (577292 bytes) AMCB24.jpg (432917 bytes)

Editor's Note:

The Selden Manuscript was one of the sources for A Medieval Carol Book by Rev. Terry. Scans of the manuscript pages are on-line at the Bodleian Library; see Selden MS B26 (opens in a new window at an exterior site). The link on the image below is to folio 9v:

Editor's Note:

"The Rose" is a familiar theme in Christmas hymns and carols. Here are a few similar carols:

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)

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