A Rose Arose

by Hilary Horn

By Carol Dixon

In the dark days at the beginning of December, I venture out into our garden (usually my husband’s domain) and look out for little green shoots appearing.  It may seem an odd time of year in the chilly county of Northumberland in northern England  to be looking for new growth in the garden  but this small plant with its glossy green foliage for me heralds the start of the Advent/Christmas season.  Once I see the dark leaves I know that later in the month a special flower will bloom with pure white petals, described in one of my favourite carols from Germany ‘Es ist ein Ros entsprungen’ (known in English as ‘There is a rose growing’)

I first sang this carol as a teenager at the girls’ grammar school I attended almost 60 years ago and I was fascinated by the idea of a Christmas Rose.  We now have one in our garden which blossoms between Christmas and new year – a wonderful memory of our 17 year old niece who was killed on the last day of the year in 1998.   Although the hymn and the poem seem more pertinent in the Northern Hemisphere where Christmas falls in midwinter I find it a great consolation to remember in all the wintry seasons of our lives, whatever time of year, that God, who became one of us, is with us at all times, everywhere.  One of my favourite versions of the hymn is the version by Nana Mouskouri.

  A rose Arose Hymn – From the 15th century Carol ‘Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen’

In the dark recesses

of winter world

a sleeping seed


Cocooned within

the womb, a foetus

flexes fragile fingers

tipped with tiny nails;

birth beckons;

a journey begins:

darkness gives way

to light.

Hidden in the humus

of a stable yard,

a simple rose grows

and, on Christmas morning,


Christmas Prayer 

You came as a baby, Lord,
as a little helpless child
who relied on a human family
to care for him. 

You cried because you were hungry,
because you were homeless,
because you were a stranger
far away from home. 

You still cry with hunger, Lord,
in the voices of the many starving;
your tears still flow for the homeless,
the lonely and the forgotten;
you still rely on human families
to care for you. 

And so this Christmas, Lord, we pray:
help us to be the kind of people
who look for you in the world,
and joyfully discover you
as we care for one another. 

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