Flower Carol, The (Spring Has Now Unwrapped the Flowers)
DESCRIPTION: "Spring has now unwrapped the flowers, Day is fast reviving, Light in all her growing powers Towards the light is striving." Hearers are urged to praise God, who brings flowers to life in the spring -- and also resurrects humanity
AUTHOR: (translation claimed by the authors of the Oxford Book of Carols)
EARLIEST DATE: 1928 (OBC; tune from Piae Cantiones, 1582)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad flowers
REFERENCES (2 citations):
OBC 99, "Flower Carol" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-Southern, p. 59, "The Flower Carol" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "Good King Wenceslas" (tune)
NOTES: Properly this does not belong in the Index at all, since it is not folk song. Its inclusion is based on a curious mistake by Jean Ritchie. She and her family grew up singing "Good King Wenceslas," presumably for its tune. She wanted to include it in her songbook. But she had read the critique of J. M. Neale's "Wenceslas" text (see the notes to that song; I for one would consider them dead-on). So, instead of including "Wenceslas" in her book, which at least had the virtue of being traditional in her family, she included this text from the Oxford Book of Carols.
The irony is that the "Spring Has Now Unwrapped the Flowers" is no more original than "Good King Wenceslas" (since it's a translation), and it's also quite feeble -- and, apparently, it is even more recent than Wenceslas!
Just like "Good King Wenceslas," however, the tune (one of many great tunes from the Piae Cantiones) has carried "The Flower Carol" far: checking my collection of pre-1960 hymnals (which covers most although not all major denominations), none contain it, but it seems to be, um, popping up in many newer hymnals.
The text of this has very little of the Bible in it; flowers are not a common subject in either the Old or New Testament the word "flower" is used only 32 times in the King James Bible, very many of them in descriptions of cultic furnishings (in Exodus, chapters 25, 37, where in every case the New Revised Standard version renders "petals" rather than "flowers"; 1 Kings chapter 6). The only passage which reminds me even vaguely of this is Song of Songs 2:12, where "the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come. But the Song of Songs is a love poem (or, rather, probably an anthology of them), not a song of praise. - RBW
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