Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A Branch So Fair Has Blossomed

A Branch so fair has blossomed
From tender parent stem,
Out of the rod of Jesse,
As told by godly men,
And brought a Flow’r so bright,
Well in the midst of winter
And darkness of the night.

This little Rose, so lovely,
That sprang from Jesse’s rod
A lowly virgin brought us,
The favoured one of God;
By His decree and might
A holy Child she bare us
One blessed Christmas night.

This little Flow’r, so fragrant,
My heart fills with delight,
For with its shining splendour
It drives away the night.
True man, and yet God’s Son,
Saves us from sin and sorrow,
And when life’s day is done.

Apparently this was first published in the 1580s, though some sources date it back to the 14th century. Its original 19 stanzas focused on Mary, comparing her to the woman describing herself as a ‘rose’ in Song of Songs 2:1 – ‘am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley’. By 1609, however, Protestants had adopted the hymn and changed its focus from Mary to Jesus, citing Isaiah 11:1 – ‘A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit’.

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