By Rev. Melinda Reed

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 

Isaiah 11:1

I was raised in the Ango-Catholic ( Episcopal high church) tradition, where there were smells, and bells, and great whoo-ha. The music and liturgy was choreographed seamlessly. Mary, the mother of Jesus, always had a prominent position in the liturgy. As a result, I have always thought of the liturgical year in terms of music.

Music has always been a significant part of my life, and a great source of comfort and joy.  I have always experienced music as a deep and never ending spring, and source of personal and spiritual grounding.

Music heard so deeply,

That it is not heard at all, but you are the music.

T.S.Eliot, Four Quartets

As we come to the third Sunday in Advent, or Rose Sunday – Mary’s Sunday, as I was brought up to call it; the hymn that evokes much meaning, and comfort for me is “Es ist ein Rose entsprungen” a Christmas carol and Marian hymn of German origin. We have come to know this commonly translated hymn as “ Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”.  To me, this hymn transcends time and place, calling us back to Isaiah with his prophecy of the birth of Jesus, through the root of Jesse. Mary is the symbol of the rose who has come to give birth to the Christ child.

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.

In hearing this beloved hymn, I am filled with wonderful memories of my family origin, especially those who have gone before me, my religious and faith formation which has been a great source of strength and comfort, my family today, and my faith community which are a source of strength, love, deep rooting, spiritual refreshment and joy.

One of my favorite choral composers is John Rutter. Hear Rutter’s Cambridge Singers recordings of “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” on YouTube. I hope you enjoy the music.

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