Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As men of old have sung
It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half spent was the light.

—Anon., “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,” (Baker trans.)

Perhaps because so much of the earth loses its greenery in the winter, a number of Christmas traditions and songs invoke those plants that do not. “The Holly and the Ivy” and “O Christmas Tree” sing the praises of their persistent viridity; and “Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming” and the day’s antiphon (“O Radix”) use plant metaphors to describe the birth of the promised Messiah.

Today’s pack references the greenery I grew up seeing around the holiday: pine trees, ivy, roses, and following the liturgy for the day, the Root of Jesse.

Advent 19: Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

Creatures (7)
Cavalier of Thorns
Folk of the Pines
Ivy Lane Denizen
Lovestruck Beast
Rosethorn Acolyte
Thorn Lieutenant
Wall of Roots

Artifacts (1)
Prismatic Lens

Spells (4)
Crushing Vines
Root Snare
Wreath of Geists
Lands (8)
Thriving Grove
Snow-Covered Forest

While some packs have very successfully leaned into a mechanical identity, this pack leans more heavily into its theme, with less concern for mechanical unity. That said, there is a line of play that can be quite aggressive. Playing Thorn Lieutenant, Wall of Roots, and Lovestruck Beast early is the hope, using Wall of Roots or even Rosethorn Acolyte to ramp into Cavalier of Thorns by turn four!

The composition of this set is particularly friendly to Festive Colors and The Elven Family, the first of which benefits from our extra ramp and our 5/5 Cavalier of Thorns, and the latter of which is happy to welcome new elves into the family. Because it relies mostly on lower-power creatures, which sometimes end up in the graveyard because of Cavalier of Thorns, The Feast of Saint Nicholas is also a solid choice. In case you’re curious about the lesser known carol I quote at the top, I’m putting a recording of the original German lyrics and melody here:

Jacob Torbeck is a researcher and instructor of theology and ethics. He hails from Chicago, IL, and loves playing Commander and pre-modern cubes.

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