Hosanna

“Hosanna in the highest!”
That ancient song we sing,
for Christ is our Redeemer,
the Lord of heaven, our King.
O may we ever praise him
with heart and life and voice,
and in his blissful presence
eternally rejoice.”

Hosanna, Loud Hosanna has been one of my favorite songs for a long time; the hymn tune ELLACOMBE even longer.

ELLACOMBE is the hymn tune to another favorite hymn, I Sing the Mighty Power of God. Both of these hymns are triumphant and frankly, glorious, in tune and lyric.

Tomorrow morning, on Palm Sunday, I will sing this song, as I usually do, accompanied by a recording instead of live organ and full congregation, waving the palm I painted last week.

This somber and unexpected entry into Holy Week is wrought with emotion. I grieve that I won’t get to walk into the sanctuary tomorrow and receive a Palm to wave in worship, and bring to place at the foot of the cross while we sing the 3rd verse of Hosanna, Loud Hosanna (printed above), in the company of people in my church whom I love and miss.

In its Hebrew origin, the word “hosanna,” is a plea for salvation or deliverance. In the Psalms it is used as an impassioned petition of safety and refuge; salvation and deliverance from oppression.

As the people shouted loud hosannas on that day as Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, waving palms and shouting loudly, “blessed us the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” their shouts of deliverance became cries of faith and affirmation. A plea for salvation from oppression and an acknowledgment of “here is our savior, the one who can and will deliver us. Pleas became praises that day, and on Palm Sunday, 2020, the same is true for us, I think.

An oppressive new virus has changed life as we know it. We are fearful, lonely, restless; feeling a bit untethered like ships without sails just floating in stagnant waters, waiting to see what comes next as we continue to live from day to day.

Getting out of bed, doing the next thing, living out our days is now exhausting and monumental.

We cry for salvation and deliverance. And even in the gravity of the crisis we are navigating, our cries for help somehow become shouts of joy and praise “here is our savior who can fill us with hope, again.”

It’s hard to lean into hope these days. I wish I had my Palm from last year, which is thumb tacked to my cork board in my office. It reminds me of a joyful Sunday, beloved hymns sung in community, and reminders of hope that exist even in the face of suffering.

I am not, however, called to live by looking to the past to get through this time. In my experience, hosannas of deliverance become hosannas of praise when I can fully embrace that I’m in a difficult time that feels awful and scary, and that Christ is with me in that scary time.

I can lean into hope, because hope is a living thing that ebbs and flows, just like life itself. Christ’s hope is always with us. Often masked by trials, obscured by our tears and blurry to our weary eyes; it is there.

Wave your Palms on this Lord’s day, and in so doing, move the fog a little further away from your face, and see the hope of Christ there, waiting to embrace you.

Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

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