Is "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" best fitted for an Advent or Christmas hymn?


#1

At the Advent-Christmas liturgy meeting the music ministers and I had last week, we were planning the Christmas music (we had already done Advent), and someone suggested that we do "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming". Well, some members said that it is better used as an Advent hymn. In the OCP hymnal, it's listed under Christmas. Last year we did it, and the congregation really didn't get the hang of the notes because there are a lot of half notes, and I guess it is better suited for a choir, so we didn't use it this year because of that and because we didn't know which season it would be better for. My question is: is this hymn better used during Advent or Christmas? I have heard it used both ways.

If you don't know the hymn, here are the lyrics:

  1. Lo, how a Rose e're blooming From tender stem hath sprung!
    Of Jesse's lineage coming, As those of old have sung.
    It came, a flower bright, Amid the cold of winter, When half spent was the night.

  2. Isaiah 'twas foretold it, This Rose I have in mind,
    With Mary we behold it, The Virgin Mother kind.
    To show God's love aright, She bore to
    us a Savior, When half spent was the night.

  3. O Flow'r, whose fragrance tender With sweetness fills the air,
    Dispel in glorious splendor The darkness ev'rywhere;
    True man, yet very God, From sin and
    death now save us, And share our ev'ry load.


#2

[quote="CatholicZ09, post:1, topic:304946"]
At the Advent-Christmas liturgy meeting the music ministers and I had last week, we were planning the Christmas music (we had already done Advent), and someone suggested that we do "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming". Well, some members said that it is better used as an Advent hymn. In the OCP hymnal, it's listed under Christmas. Last year we did it, and the congregation really didn't get the hang of the notes because there are a lot of half notes, and I guess it is better suited for a choir, so we didn't use it this year because of that and because we didn't know which season it would be better for. My question is: is this hymn better used during Advent or Christmas? I have heard it used both ways.

If you don't know the hymn, here are the lyrics:

[/quote]

The rose is Jesus and the song is told from the perspective that Jesus has already come so it is a Christmas song. But there are strong Advent themes woven into the song.

I think it is the perfect Christmas song for the Christmas Vigil Masses and for Christmas Mass During the Night. Probably for Mass at Dawn too.

(And I can forgive people who use it for Advent because I really love that song.)


#3

It sounds more like Christmas to me. It is very difficult for the average person to sing, so maybe it could be sung by the choir for a meditation hymn after Communion.


#4

In the UK it is definately used as part of the Advent Carol service which all the Anglican churches and cathedrals have (see below) . It tends to be sung as an anthem by the choir rather than a congregational carol.

joh.cam.ac.uk/advent-carol-service-2011


#5

[quote="liturgyluver, post:4, topic:304946"]
In the UK it is definately used as part of the Advent Carol service which all the Anglican churches and cathedrals have (see below) . It tends to be sung as an anthem by the choir rather than a congregational carol.

joh.cam.ac.uk/advent-carol-service-2011

[/quote]

Although having said that it all my English hymn books (both Catholic and Anglican) it appears as a Christmas hymn - the words certainly support this.


#6

Thanks for the input. They all told me that when the choir did it last year, it flowed a lot more smoothly than having the congregation sing it along with a cantor. Maybe we could throw it in at the singing of the carols before Midnight Mass.


#7

Technically after 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve its no longer Advent. Its the Christmas Vigil

I suppose some traditional Christmas Hymns can be interchanged for Advent but its not a usual custom. The lyrics of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” suggest in itself that it is a intentional Christmas Hymn as it is traditional.

It’s interesting how some other Christian Churches see the song particularly the Word Rose as some see it pointing towards the Christ-Child and the Catholic Church it points towards the Mystical Rose pointing toward Mary. Song of Solomon 2:1: “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”


#8

It is certainly a Christmas song. As is well known, the secular world and many religious denominations treat the pre-Christmas period as Christmas so it is often sung then. In addition, even those denominations that still cling to Advent, sometimes they have services, concerts and the like with Christmas music before Christmas.

In the Catholic Church...unless part of a concert... it should be reserved for the Christmas Season, i.e., beginning with the first Christmas Mass.

As for singing it...let the choir do it. It really can be beautiful and listening certainly can be active participation.


#9

I'm a little biased because I love the hymn, but I think it can work for both Advent and Christmas and have seen it done both ways. That said, it probably works best at Christmas.

I think having the choir do it is better since the rhythms can be difficult for the average pew sitter to pick up. You could leave it open for the congregation to join with the choir. I ALWAYS, ALWAYS love joining in with the choir when I'm in the pews and they are doing it. I'll sing the alto line, which is so lovely, and my husband will sing the bass line.

An embarrassing side note regarding the hymn. A few years back when my husband and I were first married, I visited my husband for a weekend in Newport, RI, who was doing long term work up there for his company. It was during the Advent season and at one of the mansions we toured, they had the place decorated in Christmas decor, and a group of actors dress up in period clothes, putting on a little thing in the ball room. At one point one of the actors got up and said, let's all sing "Lo! How a Rose E're Blooming". My husband and I thought that they were inviting all of us to sing, so here were, singing harmony with them. It wasn't until we were close to done singing the hymn that we realized that no one else was singing, except for the actors. Afterwards, the actors were thanking us for being their guests and one of them said to us in a way to let us know that we actually weren't supposed to be singing, "Thank you for singing. We weren't expecting anyone to join us." I was already a little embarrassed for being so oblivious about no one else in the ballroom was singing. I went completely red in the face, but my husband and I had a big laugh once we left the mansion. What was funny was that we were actually looking at the actors as the real people living there and we were just these provincial plebescites who should have known better about Guilded Age propriety and manners.


closed #10

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