It is applied in numerous verses of the New Testament including "Hosanna; blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord" (Mark 11.9), "hosanna in the highest" (Mark 11.10); "hosanna to the Son of David" (Matt 21:9). The old interpretation "Save, now!", based on Psalm 118:25, does not fully explain the occurrence of the word in the Gospels as a shout of jubilation, and this has given rise to complex discussions.
Liturgical use in different traditions
In a liturgical context, it refers to a cry expressing an appeal for divine help.
In Jewish liturgy, the word is applied specifically to the Hoshana Service, a cycle of prayers from which a selection is sung each morning during Sukkot, the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. The complete cycle is sung on the seventh day of the festival, which is called Hoshana Rabbah (הושענא רבא, "Great Hosanna").
"Hosanna" was the shout of praise or adoration made in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" It is used in the same way in Christian praise.
Other examples of modern usage
The "Hosanna Anthem", based on the phrase Hosanna, is a traditional Moravian Church anthem written by Bishop Christian Gregor of Herrnhut sung on Palm Sunday and the first Sunday of Advent. It is antiphonal, i.e. a call-and-response song; traditionally, it is sung between the children and adult congregation, though it is not unheard of for it to be done in other ways, such as between choir and congregation, or played between trombone choirs.
"Hosanna" is also the name of one of the songs featured in the 1971 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The song covers the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, as in the above Biblical passages. Jesus is briefly harassed by the high priest Caiaphas but the people celebrate him as the Messiah. There is also a reprise of the chorus when Jesus is sent to King Herod.
Many songs for church use bear the title "Hosanna", including songs written by New Zealand singer Brooke Fraser Ligertwood (released on the 2007 Hillsong United albums All of the Above and live on Saviour King and covered by the Canadian group Starfield on their album I Will Go); another song by Paul Baloche on his 2006 album A Greater Song; another by gospel artist Kirk Franklin, and another by Andrew Peterson on his 2008 album Resurrection Letters II. Sidney Mohede's "Hosanna (Be Lifted High)" was included on Israel Houghton's 2011 Grammy Award-winning album Love God, Love People. In the 1969 Broadway musical 1776 the word is used repeatedly as part of the chorus of the song "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men".
A. R. Rahman composed the song "Hosanna" for the 2010 Tamil movie Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. Here the word is used as an exclamation of joy when a man sees his beloved. The Catholic Christian Secular Forum (CSF) objected to this song and asked film-makers Fox Star Studios to remove it from the final cut of the Hindi remake of the film, Ekk Deewana Tha. Paul McCartney's most recent release, the album New, features a song titled Hosanna. Contextually, he uses the phrase as a cry for help in light of the world's current state of affairs.
- Oxford English Dictionary and Bauer lexicon
- See ArtScroll Siddur, p. 727.
- See the articles Thayer, J. H. (1902). "Hosanna". In James Hastings. A Dictionary of the Bible. and more especially Cheyne, T. K. "Hosanna". In Cheyne and Black. Encyclopedia Biblica.
- Friberg Lexicon
- See ArtScroll Siddur, p. 726; so also in Syrian usage.
- Matthew 21:9,15; Mark 11:9-10; John 12:13.
- The Moravian Hymn Book with Services (authorized for use in the British Province of the Moravian Church), 1960
- Frank Lloyd Wright: The Fellowship. Event occurs at 17:20. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
- Prashant Singh (20 January 2012). "AR Rahman reacts to Hosanna controversy". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Vimeo clip
- Yohannan Aharoni & Michael Avi-Yonah, The MacMillan Bible Atlas, Revised Edition, pp. 157–165 (1968 & 1977 by Carta Ltd).
- 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on Hosanna.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- The dictionary definition of hosanna at Wiktionary