Hosanna! What Does That Mean?

As you well know, this week is Palm Sunday.  Most associate the day with palm branches, Jesus riding into town on a donkey, etc.  I don’t know about you, but many times I take the words we sing in worship for granted.  I too often assume that the people in our congregation know what these words mean.  Ebenenezer, bulwark, diadem?  The fact of the matter is they probably don’t know what they mean and are too embarrassed to ask.  Sadly, if we are really honest, we may not know what they mean ourselves.  It is easy to be in church all the time, hear all of the “churchy” words, and just accept them on face value.

Today, I’d like to take a very general and brief look at the meaning of the word “Hosanna.”  In Psalm 118:25, “Save us, we pray” can be translated Hosanna.

Psalm 118:25 (ESV)

25 Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!

The Old Testament meaning of the word was an urgent cry for help.  Save please!  Here are the passages where “Hosanna” is found in the New Testament.

Matthew 21:9, 15 (ESV)

9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,

Mark 11:9-10 (ESV)

9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

John 12:13 (ESV)

13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Hosanna has shifted from being a a general cry for saving / help in the Old Testament, to a confident Hope / Praise for salvation in the New Testament.  The One who has saved us has come!  Jesus!  When we lead worship, we can confidently praise the One who has come to save us!  We are no longer wondering who will save us, we know Jesus has saved us!  Hosanna:  Praise You Jesus, Thank You for Salvation!!!

*For a deeper look at this topic, John Piper has written a great article outlining the biblical meaning of the word Hosanna over at his Desiring God website.  It is a must read!

*Two great songs for this week.  1) Hosanna (Praise Is Rising) written by Paul Baloche & Brenton Brown, & 2) Hosanna written by Brooke Frasor.

*Nan Allen has also recently written a wonderful little book called “The Words We Sing.”  She says the purpose of the book is “to unwrap these words and phrases in Christian song lyrics that touch our hearts and satisfy our minds.” It is a must have resource for worship leaders.  If you are in the Lillenas choral club, you probably received it in your last shipment.  If not, you can purchase it at the Christian Book Distributors website for $11.69

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