The song title is a reference to the Old Testament book, Song of Songs 2:1, in which the writer compares the beauty of his beloved to the rose of Sharon, a flower commonly found in Israel:
I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys (NIV).
Traditionally attributed to King Solomon, the biblical book Song of Songs is a wedding song honoring intimacy between a man and his wife in their marriage.
Marcus Mumford was by his grandmother's bedside as she passed away. This song was inspired in part by that sad event.
And I will surround you With a love too deep for words Hold you from the world and its curse So long as I have breath in my lungs
Asked by The Sun about "the world and its curse" lyric, Mumford explained that he'd never been through the experience of being someone as they died before. "It's very life-altering and ends up being something you'd write about because you're at your most vulnerable," he said.
Sonically, the song's rolling West-African cadences picks up the thread of Mumford & Sons' 2016 Johannesburg EP, which was recorded with African musicians. Mumford said: "'Rose of Sharon' I think presents a bit of that sort of hip-hoppy sort of stuff that people have been asking us so many questions about. It's kind of a deep groove thing, kind of a 'dancey' song."
Sengalese percussionist Mamadou Sarr, who contributed to the Johannesburg EP, performed on this track. As he was living in London when they were recording Delta, the Mumfords invited him to come in and play on this song.