Flos de radice – a lovely little Advent carol from Germany (15th Century)

As a consequence of the New Liturgical movement newsletter I came across this lovely little carol I’d never heard of before.
It has that peculiar innocence that is so evocative of the medieval mind. It quite catches the mood of pre-Dickens Christmas…the Christmas buried in the avalanche of the Reformation and only gradually unearthed in the second half of the twentieth century.
The natural poetry of medieval Christianity is not only remarkable but in hindsight so much of continuing philosophical, cultural and theological value was lost sight of in tornado of Reformation and counter reformation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
We lost not only books, beauty and great art – we lost a way of thinking about the world, and ourselves and God that was remarkable and insightful of itself which was communicated in carols like this whose structural simplicity was a means of effectively communicating complicated ideas.
Flos de radice Jesse, est natus hodie.
Quem nobis jam adesse, laetamur unice.
Flos ille Jesus est.
Maria Virgo radix de qua flos ortus est.
Hunc Isaias florem, praesagus cecinit.
Ad ejus nos amorem, Nascentis allicit.
Flos virgam superat
coeli terraeque cives, Flos ille recreat.
Hic suo flos odore, fideles attrahit.
Divino mox amore, attractos imbuit.
O flos o gratia:
ad te suspiro, de te me satia.
translation : A flower from the root of Jesse is born today
And we rejoice particularly that He is now with us.
That flower is Jesus
The Virgin Mary is the root from which the flower comes forth.
Isaiah sang in prophecy of this flower.
He draws us to the love of Him that is born.
The flower is greater than the branch;
That flower renews all that dwell in heaven and on earth.
This flower draws the faithful with its perfume,
and having drawn them, fills them with God’s love.
O flower, o grace, I long for Thee; fulfill me of Thyself.


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