There Is No Rose

Date Completed

November 28, 1988


Choral (more like this)


SATB Choir, a capella





Difficulty Level


Liturgical Use

Christmas, Lessons and Carols, Marian Feasts




Anonymous English Carol, 15th century



Old English and Latin

Date Written

15th century


There is no rose of such vertu
As is the rose that bare Jesu.
Alleluia, alleluia.

For in this rose conteinèd was
Heaven and earth in litel space,
Res miranda, res miranda.

By that rose we may well see
There be one God in persons three,
Pares forma, pares forma.

The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gaudeamus, gaudeamus

Leave we all this werldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth.
Transeamus, transeamus.

Translations of unfamiliar Latin words:
res miranda = marvelous thing!
pares forma = of equal form
gaudeamus = let us rejoice!
Transeamus = let us go across! (from worldy to heavenly things)




Publication Data

Publisher Name

Oxford University Press

Date Published


Catalog Number

ISBN 0-19-385924-6


Depending upon what printing you have, measure 33 is a confusing mess. I do not believe I received a final corrected proof of this piece, and somewhere in the process, a note error and a beaming error occurred. The alto beaming should be one 8th note alone, two together (as in the soprano part). The worst thing is the E-natural marked in the reduction on the last 8th note, creating a tri-tone/dominant 7th/diminished chord resolving to the tonic progression which I never would have written in those days — NEVER! The E# should remain throughout the measure, as indicated in the soprano part. (I believe the Pacific Lutheran University recording was made with this error.)




Dedicated to the Reverend David Lawrence, SJ

Joel's Comments

There Is No Rose is my most widely-recorded piece, and one of the most widely-performed of my SATB anthems. It was composed November 11–28, 1988, during my first fall as director of music at Saint Rita, and was dedicated to Fr. David Lawrence, SJ, who was the director of liturgy there at the time and had hired me as director of music the previous June. The premiere took place the following year, December 21, 1989, at our second Lessons and Carol service, sung by my chamber choir at Saint Rita, Cantate Domino.

The text of this work had been familiar to me from my days at North Salem High School when I accompanied the SATB version of Britten's Ceremony of Carols. The composition of this piece followed one year after two of my other popular Christmas anthems — Adam Lay Ybounden and Wide, Wide in the Rose's Side — and has the distinction of being my first work accepted for publication at Oxford University Press in July 1992.


Sing to the Lord New Songs!

The Choir of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Indianapolis, Indiana
Director: Frank Boles
Release Date: 2005
Pro Organo
CD 7178
(also includes Four Advent Introits: O Come, O Rod of Jesse's Stem and 'Twas in the Year that King Uzziah Died)


Kansas City Chorale, Kansas City, Missouri
Director: Charles Bruffy
Release Date: 1994
Nimbus Records
NI 5413

In Time of Softest Snow

Choir of Christ Church, Oyster Bay, New York
Director: Frederick Backhaus
Release Date: ?
Available from Christ Church Music Department

Christmas at Loretto

South Bend Chamber Singers, South Bend, Indiana
Director: Nancy Menk
Release Date: 1999
Pro Organo
CD 7079

Christmas with the Pro Arte Singers

Pro Arte Singers, Stamford, Connecticut
Director: Arthur Sjögren
Release Date: 1998
Available from the Pro Arte Singers

In Praise of the Nativity

Choir of the West, University Chorale, et al
Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington
Directors: Richard Sparks, Richard Nance, James Holloway
Release Date: 1997
PLU Audio Recordings

User Comments



"The beautiful poem There is no rose has attracted a formidable list of composers. Joel Martinson writes here for a competent choir. The vocal writing is very skillful: no voices are stretched too far, although young basses may find a lot of bottom F#s (not to mention the final bottom C#s) a little taxing. The style is tonal but reasonably challenging, and there is a nice plasticity of rhythm in the setting of the words. Printing quality in all these OUP items is very good (it ought to be at the price), and piano reductions are provided for the a cappella pieces. Martinson's directions for performers are detailed but not fussy. Recommended."

Music Teacher (UK)

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