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Hosanna, loud hosanna
the little children sang;
through pillared court and temple
the lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises,
the simplest and the best.

From Olivet they followed
mid an exultant crowd,
the victory palm branch waving,
and chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of earth and heaven
rode on in lowly state,
nor scorned that little children
should on his bidding wait.

“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.

Words: Jeanette Threlfall, 1873
Bible references: Matthew 21:8-9, Mark 11:8-10; John 12:12-13

The author of this hymn, Jeanette Threlfall (1821-1880) was orphaned at a young age. An accident in her later life led to a leg amputation and another soon after left her a helpless invalid. Even so, she was eulogised after her death on 30 November 1880 as someone who brimmed with positivity to the end, having “a flow of gratitude for any act of kindness, however slight”, full of “eager hope”, and “a large heart… whose purse was ever open, unasked, to every good work of which she heard…”.

By occupation a Sunday school teacher, she also wrote poems and hymns. Among her hymns, “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” stood out, and is still widely-used today.

This hymn is commonly sung on “Palm-Passion Sunday” was at the beginning of the liturgy re-enacting the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The children will process, waving palm leaves as they enter the sanctuary, while the congregation breaks out into the joyful strains of “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna”!

The celebratory mood of this hymn blazes through all three stanzas. The first and second stanzas portray an exuberant crowd, waving and shouting with excitement as they welcome Jesus riding in on the back of a donkey, while the third and last stanza proclaims the reason for it: Christ is our Redeemer and King.

I feel that the hymn misses out, though, on an equally (if not more) important scene of Lent: the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Would another stanza bridging the gap between that triumphant, earthly herald of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (stanzas 1 and 2) and the ultimate, divine triumph of the Resurrection (stanza 3) make the hymn feel more complete?

In my view, we may fill that void with careful planning and conduct of the liturgy. In the liturgy, the congregation shifts from its celebrative to a more contemplative spirit, from singing “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” to a Passion hymn such as “To Mock Your Reign, O Dearest Lord” (The United Methodist Hymnal 285).  

“Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” is an uplifting and meaningful hymn in the Palm-Passion Sunday liturgy which can be seen as the musical counterpart to the scripture reading of the Passion narrative (Luke 19:28-40 or Matthew 26:14 – 27:66).  As Frances R Havergal, herself the author of some notable hymns, had said, it is indeed “one of the brightest and most graceful hymns for the little ones” ever written.

Judith Laoyan-Mosomos is the Director for Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.