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Hosanna!

posted Apr 14, 2014, 12:10 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Apr 14, 2014, 12:16 PM ]
The Hebrew word hoshanna (הושיעה־נא, הושיעה נא) which is short for the Aramaic hôšî‘â-nā’ (הושע נא) means “save” or “rescue”; or possibly “savior”. In the Hebrew Bible it is only used in verses seeking “help” or prayers to “save us”. Recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, it’s the obvious thing for the crowd to shout during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem: Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

It was with this dual meaning of praise and adoration that the word hosanna passed, at a very early date, into Christian liturgies. In every Mass it is proclaimed twice during the Sanctus. It is also sung during the procession on Palm Sunday. In some places, Christians were even accustomed to saluting bishops with cries of "Hosanna!"

Many church songs have been written using it. We sing Dan Schutte’s Hosanna to the Son of David. Another popular Palm Sunday hymn is Hosanna, Loud Hosanna. New Zealand singer Brooke Fraser released Hosanna on the Hillsong United albums “All of the Above” and “Saviour King”. Hosanna (Be Lifted High) appears on Israel Houghton's 2011 Grammy Award-winning album “Love God, Love People.”

On Broadway, remember the chorus singing “Hosanna, Hey Sanna, sanna sanna Hosanna…” in the 1971 rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber? And in the 1972 musical “1776”, the song Cool, Cool Considerate Men repeatedly uses “Hosanna” in the refrain to comically celebrate John Adams' absence from the Continental Congress.

Popularizing Caribbean musical styles, Harry Belafonte’s breakthrough 1956 album “Calypso” became the first LP in US history to sell over 1 million copies within a year. Not only did it include the now famous Banana Boat Song (Day O), it had a track titled Hosanna based on Matthew 7:24-27.

Hosanna is the ninth track on Paul McCartney's 2013 solo album “New”, though not as a sacred song; it’s a love song to his new wife.