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This melody, a traditional Christmas carol of the Rhineland, seems to have been known at the time of Martin Luther. It was first printed in 1599 in the Catholic hymnal, Speyrer Gesangbuch. The texts for the first two verses appeared in Mainz, 1585, the third in 1844.

In German speaking countries the rose has been considered a symbol of wonder and innocence for a thousand years. The legend of St. Elisabeth includes the miracle of the roses, when, forbidden to take food to the poor, a basket of proviant she was carrying turned into roses when she was challenged to reaveal its contents.

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