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The Christmas hymn "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen", which is of unknown origin, first appeared in print in a hymnal for the diocese of Speyer that was printed in Cologne in 1599, the so called Speyer Hymnal of 1599. It is No. 29 in the hymnal.

The title page of this hymnal, which I have transcribed below, seems clear enough, except for the word "Beuelch". I note that the printer's use 'u' versus 'v' seems to follow no rules that I can discern. I therefore considered "Befehl", but that should go with "auf" not "aus", and does not explain the ending "ch". German spelling obviously was not standardized at the time and may have followed Palatine German pronunciation in this case. I have adjusted line formatting and bolded the word of interest:

Alte Catholische Geistliche Kirchengeseng / auff die fürnemsten Feste /
Auch in Processionen / Creutzgängen vnd Kirchenfärten: Bey der H. Meß /
Predig / in Heusern / vnd auff dem Feld zu gebrauchen / sehr nützlich /
sampt einem Catechismo.

Auß Beuelch
Deß Hochwürdigen Fürsten vnd Herrn /
Herrn Eberharten Bischouen zu Speir /
vnnd Probsten zu Weissenburg / &c.
in diese ordnung gestelt

Gedruckt zu Cölln /
Durch Arnoldt Quentell.
M. D. XCIX.

Mit Röm: Keys: Mayest: Privil: und Freiheit.

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2 Answers 2

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It's auf Befehl.

Beuelch was probably pronounced as it is written, with a final fricative. In Early New High German, the spelling and pronunciation varied; -lch, -lh, -hl, -l, -ll are all found. See FWB: befelen.

Not using v and u as they are used now is to be expected; see vnd and Bischouen on the same title page.

As far as aus for auf is concerned, see FWB: aus (14) aufgrund von, infolge, gemäß, entsprechend; aus befel is one of the examples listed.

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    I have come to the same conclusion based on the Deutsches Rechtwörterbuch which lists the following variants among its citations: "bevelch" (Rottweil ca. 1500), "bevaͤlch" (St. Gallen 1475), "beuelch" (Tirol 1573), "beuelch" (Bodensee 1511). I have also found multiple examples of "aus bevelch" for "auf Befehl".
    – njuffa
    Dec 15, 2023 at 9:02
  • Michele Zelinsky Hanson, Religious Identity in an early Reformation community: Augsburg, 1517 to 1555. Brill 2009, p. 165 (emphasis mine): "sei er unn Martin Schifelin, aus bevelch irs ober gassen haubtmans, am Suntag vershinen zu mittag zu ime Haubenschmid gangen ..." (August 24, 1552).
    – njuffa
    Dec 15, 2023 at 9:02
  • Ludwig Keller (ed.), Die Gegenreformation in Westfalen und am Niederrhein. Zweiter Teil. (1585-1609). Leipzig: S. Hirzel 1887, p. 521 (emphasis mine): "Weil anseiten de injuriis protestiert, D. Holter und nunmehr auch Lic. Weisfeld beschuldigt worden, pitten, Reverendissimus wolle sie beid in patrocinium aufnehmen, was sie redeten geschehe aus Bevelch und Geheiß ihrer Principalen." (March 1, 1602)
    – njuffa
    Dec 15, 2023 at 9:04
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What you interpret als an »l« is probably an »ſ«, i.e. a »long s« which makes perfectly sense before »ch« to form the trigraph »ſch« (»sch« in modern German). So, it might be:

Beueſch = Beuesch

The preposition »auß« (»aus« in modern German) means »from« and is used in combination with geographical names of countries, cities, villages etc. (»aus Frankreich« = »from France«, »aus Berlin« = »from Berlin«, etc.). So, I guess, that »Beueſch« was a place name.

Old Catholic hymns / at the most distinguished festivals / Also in processions / cloisters and church tours: To be used at Holy Mass / sermon / in houses and in the fields / very useful / together with a catechism.

From Beuesch
[Dedicated to] the Reverend Prince and Lord / Lord Eberhart, Bishop of Speier /
and Provost of Weissenburg / etc. placed in this order

Printed in Cologne
By Arnoldt Quentell.
1599
With the privilege and freedom of His Majesty the Roman Emperor


The rest of my answer is about the possible meaning of Beueſch/Beuesch.

The first syllable, »beu« is also part of »Beuern« and »Beuren« which for them alone are place names but they also appear in may compound place names (Dorfbeuern, Benediktbeuern, Bernbeuren, Waldbeuren, etc.). The syllable »beu« derives from Old High German »bur« and is related to Middle Dutch »buur« which both mean »small house« or »habitation«.

The part »eſch« = »esch« can be found in place names like Esch, Eschborn, Eschede and many others and means »Esche«, which is a tree (»ash tree« in English, scientific name Fraxinus)

So, it could be (and what comes now is highly speculative), that there was a small house made of the wood of an ash tree, or maybe it was built in a small grove of ash trees. Later other people added more houses, and then people called that small village »Beuesch«. However, this hypothesis is contradicted by the fact that the place name Eschbeuern is more likely to have been formed in this situation. But the meaning of a place name is often very difficult to find out.

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    I agree it could be 'ſ' instead of 'l'. When I initially looked at it, the curvature at the top of the character did not seem sufficient compared to the two instances of 'ſ' in "Proceſſionen", for example. But the fact that the trigraph "sch" is so common seems like a convincing argument for this interpretation. Which leaves the mystery as to what "Auß Beuesch" may refer to. There seems to be no link to the place of residence of bishop Eberhard von Dienheim, for example.
    – njuffa
    Dec 15, 2023 at 7:01

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