By Rev. Fr. M. O. John
Indian Orthodox Church
The word Hosanna means praise. The most important service on
the Hosanna day is the procession with fresh Palm leaves and the
blessings of those leaves. The procession is a recollection or
remembrance of the singing of Hosanna by his disciples and
believers during the great entrance of our Lord Jesus to Royal City of
Like the Virgins who waited for the Lord, the Church is also
waiting with fasting and prayer for the arrival of its Lord and Savior
the Kingdom of God. The present fasting, prayer and everything of
the Church is to welcome Jesus as the Lord and King.
Christ Our Lord and Savior
The whole of Israel was waiting for the arrival of their
redeemer, the king from the tribe of David. For centuries the Jews were
waiting for their redemption from the political bondage of foreign
powers, like the Greeks and Romans who were ruling them for long
years. They expected their redemption through the Anointed one (Messiah)
of Yahweh. Many Jews have seen that how Jesus went around and
performed so many miracles. As the climax of all these wonders He raised
Lazarus from the dead. Seeing all these and recognizing him as
the Messiah, His disciples and the believers greeted Him with
Hosanna while he was coming to Jerusalem. Crowds of people carpeted
The roads with their cloaks, and some cut branches from the trees to
Spread in his path. Then the crowd that went ahead and the others that
came behind raised the shout:
" Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Heavens"
Seeing him coming on the donkey they might have remembered
"the prophesy which says, Tell the daughter of Zion, " Here is your
king, who comes to you in gentleness, riding on an ass, riding on
the foal of a beast of burden." (Mathew 21.4) By singing Hosanna to Him
they all accepted him as their king. While celebrating the festival
of Hosanna we are recollecting and again celebrating what
happened in Jerusalem in those days. We are also accepting Him as our Lord
The Glorious Second Coming of Christ
The celebration of Hosanna is not simply remembrance of the
past events. It is an active recollection and lively participation
also. Recalling the past events the Church which sojourns in this
world is looking forward for the glorious Second Coming of the Lord.
While singing Hosanna using fresh palm leaves they are joining the
crowd who were robed in whites and had palms in their hands.
St. John, having the Vision, writes in the Revelation, "After
this I looked and saw a vast throng, which no one could count, from
every nation, of all tribes, peoples and languages standing in front
of the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white and had
palms in their hands, and they shouted together: Victory to our God who
sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. And all the Angels stood round
the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they
fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, crying: Amen
Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor, power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever! Amen. These are the men who passed
through great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white
in the blood of the Lamb"( Cf. Rev.7.9-17)
Blessings of the Palm Leaves.
During the Hosanna service in our church we bless or
consecrate the Palm leaves or Hosanna leaves. The Palm leaves or the branches
used for the procession were cut from different trees. After the
procession we collect those leaves, put them before the Lord
and pray to him to bless it. We are praying the Lord to bless not only
those leaves but also all the trees, branches, leaves and the whole
vegetation in the whole World. In a way this ceremony is a
blessing or consecration of the whole nature. Lifting up his hands
before the Hosanna leaves the Priest prays: " Now God our Lord because of
your abundant mercy, bless these branches and the trees from where
these were cut and all the trees that your Lordship have created and
brought into being………. "
The whole congregation says "Amen"
Again, lifting up his hands the priest prays, "Lord by the
indwelling of your mercy, bless us, fields (agriculture), trees and
Vegetation, and these branches………"
The priest put the sign of the cross in the name of the
Father, Son and the Holy Spirit upon the branches and blesses it and the
people says Amen
By the Hosanna celebration and through the blessing of the
branches we are blessing and dedicating the entire nature and the whole
world. It reminds us of our responsibility towards the nature too.
During this Hosanna celebration let us accept Christ as our
Lord, Savior and King. He is humble and meek and coming towards the
New Jerusalem or the dwelling place of the glorious King which is
our heart itself (1Cor.3.16). Let us open its gates wide and cover its roads with the cloaks of our good deeds for His Great
Entrance. Let us remember His Glorious Second Coming and prepare us with
white robes and simple Hosanna leaves. Let us remember our
responsibility towards the whole world and the entire nature and bring it
before God as good, acceptable and perfect offering to the Lord our God.
By Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose
The Greek word "Hosanna" literally means "save us O Lord we beseech thee" which is connecting to the Messianic hope that
the Jewish community kept hoping that the Messiah will save them from all tribulations from the moment he is installed the King. Fortunately, our Lord
did not establish an earthly kingdom the way the people thought and even some of the disciples thought. Sometime during the Holy Week we all will
learn this reality, I hope. The simple knowledge that "earthly kingdoms" will not help us grow in the Lord is enough to take up the challenges of
today in the Church and the world around us.