Root of Jesse (Artful Devotion) – Art & Theology Theology

The tree of Jesse, 12th Century. Stained glass window (Bay 49), Chartres Cathedral, France. Photo: Painter Cowen.

There will be a shot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch of its roots will bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of the Council and the power
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And his delight will lie in the fear of the Lord.
He should not judge by what his eyes see
or disputes after deciding what his ears hear
but with justice he will judge the poor,
and decide with righteousness for the gentleness of the earth;
and he will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he will kill the godless.
Justice will be the belt of his waist,
and loyalty the belt of his loins.
, , ,

On that day the root of Jesse, who will stand as a sign of the nations, will ask of him the nations, and his resting place will be glorious.

Isaiah 11: 1-5, 10

Tree of Jesse (Chartres)
The lower panel shows Nahum, Jesse and Joel. All the following detailed photos are from Dr. med. Stuart Whatling.
Tree of Jesse (Ezekiel, David, Hosea)
Ezekiel, David, Hosea
Tree of Isai (Isaiah, Solomon, Micha)
Isaiah, Solomon, Micah
Tree of Jesse (Moses, Generic King, Balaam)
Moses, common king, Balaam
Tree of Jesse (Samuel, Generic King, Amos)
Samuel, Gen. King, Amos
Tree of Jesse (Zechariah, Maria, Daniel)
Zacharias, the Virgin Mary, Daniel
Tree of Jesse (Habakkuk, Christ, Zephaniah)
Habakkuk, Christ with the seven gifts of the Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, steadfastness, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, according to Isa. 11: 2), Zephaniah


SONG: "O root of Jesse" | Text: Latin original from the 6th to the 8th century, English translation of the Church of England Shared worship Liturgy | Music by Ole Sch├╝tzler (* 1976) | Performed by the Young Chamber Choir Rhein-Neckar (Rhein-Neckar Youth Chamber Choir) under the direction of Mathias Rickert am Advent (2014)

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
Quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
Before kings shut up,
To you, the nations will speak their prayer:
Come and save us and do not hesitate any longer.

"O Radix Jesse" (O root of Jesse) is one of the seven O antiphons, Names for Christ, which are sung in Advent. (The others are O Wisdom, O Lord, O Key of David, O Day Spring, O King of Nations and O God with us.) Their exact origin is unknown, but their use in the eighth century is well founded.


The Cathedral of Chartres is "the pinnacle of French Gothic" (UNESCO) and one of my must-see landmarks before I die. The portals house many exquisite figurative sculptures and the interior is known for its stained glass windows, among other things. The Tree of Jesse, which depicts the royal lineage of Jesus, is one of three large, rounded lancet windows at the western end – the other two show the life of Christ (center) and the Passion of Christ.

(Related Posts: "Savior-King (Artful Devotion)"; "Jesus as root / scion / branch of Jesse")

Cathedral of Chartres with Jesse window

Photo: E. Vandenbroucque

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To display all the readings of the revised joint lesson for the second Sunday of Advent, cycle A, click here,

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