Categories
Life

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming!

Listening to 24-hours of Christmas music on the radio this month has probably made you realize one thing: the classic Christmas hymns have much more depth than “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (no offense, Mariah).

Did you realize, however, that most, if not all, of these classic carols were not written simply to be sung during the Christmas season. They were written so that congregations would know true doctrine and feel the joy that comes with it.

One of my favorite “Christmas” hymns is not a radio hit. The song is ”Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming.” This hymn, like many others, was designed to instruct on the doctrinal theme of the “righteous Branch” spoken of by the Prophets (see Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:1-7; 33:14-16). God promised David that his offspring would rule the world forever (2 Sam. 7). The Prophets pick up on this theme and teach that from David’s family tree would come a Branch that would rule the world in righteousness and justice. That Branch, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth who would save his people from their sins and reign over them forever.

The original English translation of this hymn sticks closest to the writing of the prophets. Read it. Learn from it. Sing it. Enjoy it. Enjoy Jesus in it. How? Let this song point you to the truth of the gospel: just as the prophets foretold, a righteous Branch has sprouted, a bright flower, from a rotten tree of sinners. If you trust him, rest assured that he will save you from death and lighten every load!

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 floweret 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.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, 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.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Categories
Life Theology

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

This beautiful “Christmas” hymn is based on a prophecy in Isaiah 11:1-2 that Jesus will be from the root—the family line—of Jesse, King David’s father. The title is “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” and it was written in 15th century Germany and was translated to English by Theodore Baker in 1894.

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 floweret 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.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, 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.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Categories
Theology

A Beautiful Rose from a Rotten Tree

Everyone has a beloved Christmas hymn–I mean the classic, Christmas songs about “baby Jesus.” Even if you aren’t a devoted Christian, you have found yourself happily singing “Joy to the World” or “O Holy Night” because of the rapturous power in these songs.

Christmas carols and hymns like these often drip with deeper theological meaning than the “regular” songs we sing the other eleven months of the year. Most, if not all, of the classic Christ-centered “Christmas songs” were not written simply to be sung on or around December 25. They, like all other hymns, are instructional in nature. That is, they were written so that congregations would be taught sound doctrine as they sung them. The incarnation of the Son of God that we celebrate during our modern Christmas season is a part of sound doctrine and therefore Christians needed to be taught about it. That is why “Christmas” hymns, as we know them, exist.

One of my favorite Christmas hymns is not typically sung on the radio or during the CMA Country Christmas. It is ”Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming.” As I’ve already alluded to, this hymn, like others, is not simply a “Christmas song.” It is designed to teach on the theme of the “righteous Branch” spoken of by the prophets (see Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:1-7; 33:14-16). God promised David that his offspring would rule the world forever (2 Sam. 7). The prophets pick up on this theme and teach that from David’s family tree would come a Branch that would rule the world in righteousness and justice. That Branch, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth, son of David, who would save his people from their sins and reign over them forever.

This hymn has underwent a lot of changes over the centuries. I’m nerdy, so stuff like that interests me (though I’m not a hymnologist or a musician). For all you nerds out there, you too can compare the all the versions and differences.

The original English translation sticks closest to the writing of the prophets. Read it. Learn from it. Sing it. Enjoy it. Enjoy Jesus in it. How? Let this song point you to the truth of the gospel: just as the prophets foretold, a righteous Branch has sprouted, a bright flower, from a rotten tree of sinners, who from death will save us and share our every load!

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.

Categories
Life

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

By Isaac Watts, 1707

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Categories
Life

“Once for All (Free from the Law)”

By Philip Bliss (1873)

Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus has bled and there is remission,
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.

Chorus
Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

Now we are free, there’s no condemnation,
Jesus provides a perfect salvation.
“Come unto Me,” O hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.

“Children of God,” O glorious calling,
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call;
Blessèd salvation once for all.