Dissecting “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” Quiz

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.

  • Luke 2:1-3

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.

  • Matthew 2:1

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

  • Isaiah 11:1

“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.

This Flow’r, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

  • Traditional German Carol (Translation by Theodore Baker), Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming (or Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen, originally) – third verse added later

Caroling was such an important part of Christmas.  I was probably caroling before I could read.  I remember walking from house to house with other members of the youth group and even before I was old enough for youth group.  No one invited us in for cocoa and cookies.  All of that was waiting back at the church.

Last year, I dissected three carols during the Advent Season for quizzes.  I plan to do so again, but maybe in a different vein, and the carols that I choose will be special ones, at least for me.

The first of these carols for 2022 is Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.  When my wife and I lived in Germany, stationed there with the Army, we were part of a choir in a small kaserne, Gerszewski Barracks.  It was where my battalion was located. And the LTC’s wife thought it best to let the soldiers know we were there on Sunday.  We were a small group of people, but to a certain extent, we were handpicked.  The LTC’s wife also directed musicals for the USO, and she led the Sophisticated Ladies and Friends, a song and dance group where I was the comic relief.

One year, we had a small carol singing concert at the main community church, located in family housing in Karlsruhe, Germany.  There was the huge choir at the big church, our tiny choir, and a local German choir.  Each group sang carols, but then we each chose one special arrangement as our anthem.  The other choirs had their turn, and everyone politely applauded.  All the music, except for Silent Night, had been in English.  Our small group, maybe twelve in all.  Maybe for this occasion, we had a couple of extra sopranos that were sporadic in attendance: 4-6 sopranos, 4 altos, 2 tenors, and 2 bass.  We sang Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen.  We looked into the crowd and the Germans had their mouths agape.  We sang acapella in our best German enunciation and pronunciation.  When we finished, there was silence for a few seconds.  Then everyone stood to applaud.  The LTC’s wife leaned in close and said something about wonderful gifts come in small packages.  She said that we were great.

Other than a bit about when this event occurred, which is never stated in the Bible, both season and time of day, the carol focuses on Old Testament prophecies.  I will give the meaning of various lines of the carol and then you can choose from the lines in the carol that talk about that meaning.

The Questions:

?Meaning of lines in the CarolThe Line in the Carol
1When a newborn plant springs forth from the ground, a shoot (Isaiah 11:1), it is delicate, not like a strong trunk of a tree. 
2Which prophet talked about these things, such as the virgin birth? 
3Isaiah 49:6 says that from Israel there will be a light to the Gentiles. 
4The only time the flower in this carol is mentioned in the Bible is in Song of Solomon and refers to the Shulamite woman, and a variety of the flower that is a common wildflower. 
5And back to Isaiah 11:1, where is the shoot from? 
6And Luke 2:11 records that the first angel appearing to the shepherds said that the Savior was born. 
7And a miracle birth will occur, in Isaiah 7:14 and you will call Him, God with us, Immanuel. 
8And 1 John 4:8 says that is we do not know love, we do not know God for God is love. 

The first time “rose” is mentioned in this carol, it seems to be referring to Mary.  She is the Rose of Sharon, the wildflower in love with the king (Song of Songs 2:1).  Mary being a virgin mother, she could easily mirror the Shulamite woman who was the king’s (God’s) lover in this verse.

The second time “Rose” is mentioned in the carol, it seems to refer to the “rose” that the virgin mother brings forth into the world as Savior.  There are 51 times that the word “rose” is mentioned in the NIV.  The only time it refers to the flower is in Song of Songs 2:1.  The other fifty times, the word “rose” refers to rising up.  In some cases it is an army that rose up to fight an enemy, sometimes the Israelites, sometimes their enemies, but then there is the One who rose up, rose up from the grave.  This is probably not what the carol writer was thinking, but it is something to think about.

And a note about singing the carol, it is hard to sing parts.  Most hymnals suggest singing in unison, mainly because there is no time signature.  Each measure has a different number of quarter notes.  And when each of the parts go off on a tangent, it seems a miracle when they all come back together at the end of the line.  When done right, it is a beautiful thing.

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The Answers:

?Meaning of lines in the CarolThe Line in the Carol
1When a newborn plant springs forth from the ground, a shoot (Isaiah 11:1), it is delicate, not like a strong trunk of a tree.From tender stem hath sprung!
2Which prophet talked about these things, such as the virgin birth?Isaiah ’twas foretold it
3Isaiah 49:6 says that from Israel there will be a light to the Gentiles.It came, a flow’ret bright,
4The only time the flower in this carol is mentioned in the Bible is in Song of Solomon and refers to the Shulamite woman, and a variety of the flower that is a common wildflower.Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
5And back to Isaiah 11:1, where is the shoot from?Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
6And Luke 2:11 records that the first angel appearing to the shepherds said that the Savior was born.She bore to men a Savior,
7And a miracle birth will occur, in Isaiah 7:14 and you will call Him, God with us, Immanuel.The virgin mother kind.
8And 1 John 4:8 says that is we do not know love, we do not know God for God is love.To show God’s love aright,

And here is an acapella version of Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen, sung by the Gesualdo Six at Ely Cathedral.  I don’t think we were that good.

Now for the English translation, sung by Illumni Men’s Chorale and Harvard Glee Club, Western Lutheran University, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.

If you like these Saturday morning Bible quizzes, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Saturday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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