Hymn #127: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

This hymn was in use at least by the time of Martin Luther. The earliest printed source is a manuscript from St. Alban’s Carthusian monastery in Trier and dates from between 1582 and 1588. In its original form, the twenty-three stanzas of the Latin hymn told of the events recorded in Luke 1 and 2 and Matthew 2.

Theodore Baker (1851-1934) author of this English translation, was an editor for G. Schirmer, Inc., in New York City. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the Biographical Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1900), which continues to be published to the present day.

EST IST EIN’ ROS is the name of this hymn tune, taken from the first line of the carol in German. Also called ROSA MYSTICA, this tune is believed to have its roots in Germany. For many years it was used primarily as a choral anthem because of its irregular meter.

This is a traditional German tune, thought to be from the sixteenth century. Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) arranged the tune for inclusion in the fourth volume of his Musae Sionae in 1609. Born on February 14, 1571, Praetorius died exactly fifty years later, on his birthday.