O Flower of Jesse’s Stem

O Flower of Jesse’s stem,

you have been raised up as a sign for all people;

rulers stand silent in your presence;

the nations bow down in worship before you:

Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid



(The angels presents a blossom)

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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9 Responses to O Flower of Jesse’s Stem

  1. Liam says:

    Ok, I sing these antiphons every year, I was utterly baffled by how a flower got into this one. Someone’s confusing the antiphon with Lo, How A Rose, I fear (which is about Mary, not Jesus).

    O Radix Jesse,
    qui stas in signum populorum,
    super quem continebunt reges os suum,
    quem gentes deprecabuntur:
    veni ad liberandum nos,
    iam noli tardare

    O Root of Jesse –
    who stands as a sign [an ensign] for the people;
    kings stand silent in your presence;
    whom the nations will worship:
    come to set us free,
    now do not delay.

  2. Gavin says:

    Liam, in what sense is “Lo How a Rose” about Mary and not Jesus? It’s my understanding that the “Rose” is Jesus, as per vs. 4:

    “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.”

  3. Liam says:

    V 4 does not directly connect the Flower, in appositive terms, to Jesus. V 2, however, say we behold it with Mary.

    Equivocal at best.

    That said, there’s no flower in the O Radix Jesse.

  4. Liam says:

    I should add that the greater weight of Catholic associations of the rose is with Mary, not Jesus. Viz. Dante’s Paradiso.

    The primary association of the rose with Jesus has to do with five red petals (a simple, rather than compound, rose) being an image of the Five Wounds.

  5. Jim McK says:

    Wikipedia has a “literal” translation along with the original German. It appears the Rose is Mary, the little blossom is Jesus:

    “A rose has sprung up,
    from a tender root.
    As to us the men of old have sung,
    Its lineage was from Jesse.
    And it has brought forth a little blossom
    In the middle of the cold winter
    When the night was half spent.”(verse 1)

    I suspect the author means the rosebush when he says Rose, and the flower from the bush is Jesus born of Mary.

    In any event, I can see why someone might confuse this verse with this antiphon.

  6. Gavin says:

    Thank you Jim. I was referencing the Theodore Baker translation, which I would assert changes the reference to Christ. Is there something similar in verse 2? “With Mary we behold it” – the antecedent of “it” is “the Rose”. But I could understand if the German is different.

    I suspect Liam and I are both right on this. The German may refer to Mary, but the common English translations refer to Christ.

  7. Gavin says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Es_ist_ein_Ros_entsprungen Incredible. Has anyone written a more correct English translation of the German? Or are we just being prissy Reform2 snobs to worry about what “Rose” refers to?

  8. Liam says:

    What the Rose refers to is, of course, irrelevant to the O Antiphon, since it’s not in the antiphon.

    Rose is like Morningstar, but in reverse. The metaphor of the Rose is more commonly applied to Mary than to Christ, while the metaphor of the Morningstar is more commonly applied to Christ than to Mary – but it is applied to both. Compare, for example, the Exsultet versus Alma Redemptoris Mater.

    O, and then there’s Oriens – which is coming up as an O Antiphon. Oriens gets conflated with Morningstar and Dawn…you can see where that mess is headed….

  9. Liam says:

    And you can imagine why Anglican translators into English preferred to emphasize Jesus and de-emphasize Mary – for a long time, the Lutherans were more confident in their Mariology than Anglicans, who had to contend with Dissenters.

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