I have a song to sing, O

It does bother me that American Catholics won’t sing at mass no matter what the hymn. A priest I know with Polish and German conections blames the Irish. On the Continent, he says, it’s not like that. I dunno—there are lots of Italian-American parishes in Brooklyn, and so far as I can tell they’re the same. Can the Irish example have been that persuasive?

Yesterday one of the hymns was “Lo How Ere a Rose is Blooming,” and it was just me and the 4-person chorus singing it. Luckily, I don’t know all the English words—I didn’t have a missalette, you don’t need one much in a Tridentine mass—so I had an excuse for singing it in German. The German words are hard to forget, which is how I happen to know them. In case anyone can read German:

Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen
Aus einer Wurzel zart.
Als uns die Alten sungen,
Aus Jesse kam die Art
Und hat ein Bluemlein bracht,
Mitten im kalten Winter,
Wohl zu der halben Nacht.

Das Roeslein das ich meine,
Davon Jesaias sagt:
Hat uns gebracht alleine
Marie, die reine Magd.
Aus Gottes ew’gen Rat
Hat sie ein Kind geboren
Und blieb ein’ reine Magd.

It’s a beautiful poem, extremely simple and direct—not at all like “Lo how ere a rose is blooming.” I have no idea how “Aus Gottes ew’gen Rat” goes into English. “In accordance with God’s eternal counsel” just doesn’t make it somehow.

2 thoughts on “I have a song to sing, O”

  1. Lo, how a Rose e’er
    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 light.

    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 Saviour,
    When half spent was the night.

    O flow’r, whose fragrance tender
    With sweetness fills the air,
    Dispel in glorious splendour
    The darkness ev’ry where.
    True man, yet very God,
    From sin and death now save us,
    And share our ev’re load.

  2. Jim, sad to say it’s true.
    Jim, sad to say it’s true. As a former German Lutheran (and I very much enjoyed your posting of Lo How A Rose Is Blooming in German) it’s one of the things I miss most as a Catholic. European Catholics do indeed sing and whether or not the Irish are to blame as was stated in “Why Catholics Don’t Sing” its a situation that needs to be improved. Perhaps all Latin Rite Catholics should be forced to spend a six week stint at a Byzantine Catholic or even Eastern Orthodox parish where the entire liturgy is sung!


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