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About this Piece

The German text of Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming (“Est ist ein Ros entsprungen”) comes to us from the late 16th century. We can thank Michael Praetorius for his 1609 harmonization, which has been – and continues to be – the chief model for those who wish to set their own colorful soundscape to the famous tune. This Parker/Shaw classic uses only two verses to create a simple and elegant four- part carol that juxtaposes the warm joy of the miraculous birth against the cold austerity of the simple manger scene. As for the Virgin Mary herself, scripture tells us that she is the tender root from which the “spotless rose” has come. The poem draws upon biblical imagery that pictures the newborn Christ growing forth from the “stem of Jesse” (the father of King David), as foretold in Isaiah 11. In metaphorical writings of the Middle Ages, the patriarchal figure of Jesse was often depicted as a rose bush.