Wednesday, December 5

Isaiah 11:1-4a (NIV)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD -
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.

My father learned how to count as a toddler sitting on his grandfather’s knee. His grandfather came to America from Germany when he was 19, German was his first language. Because of this, my father learned to count in German before he learned English.

In addition to the German, my father learned to count by turning the pages in the family’s German hymnal. They would stop here and there to sing a verse or two of the hymns they came across. Among some of the hymns my father holds dear, is “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,” or “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming.”

This hymn was written in Germany during the 16th century. It was initially referring to Mary as the rose springing from the lineage of Jesse, but with the protestant reformation, the hymn was adapted to shift focus from Mary to Jesus, citing Isaiah 11:1 and interpreting the prophet’s words as Messianic prophecy.

The hymn has been a favorite for many generations, and for good reason. The ethereal melody and beautiful imagery draw us into a holy moment.

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 floweret 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 Flower, 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.

Pray: Jesus, true man, yet very God, from sin and death you have saved us and lighten every load. Thanks be to God! Amen.