Psalm 118 contains the following poignant expression of adoration and pleading:
Please, LORD, please save us.
Please, LORD, please give us success.
(Psalm 118:25, New Living Translation)
This pleading is followed by an expression of confidence in the one who can provide this salvation: “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26).
On the last Sunday of the Savior’s mortal life, He rode into Jerusalem sitting on a colt, in fulfillment of a prophecy (Matthew 21:1-7, Zechariah 9:9). Recognizing Him to be the promised Messiah, many people lined the streets to greet Him. They brought branches from palm trees, and they shouted the passage from Psalm 118:
Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
The word “Hosanna” comes from the Hebrew expression in Psalm 118:25. Hosia na (הושיעה נא) means “Please save us,” or “Save us, we pray.”
When Nephi prayed to know the meaning of his father’s dream, the Spirit of the Lord asked him if he believed his father’s words. When Nephi replied that he did, the Spirit shouted the following expression of joy: “Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea even above all” (1 Nephi 11:6). Immediately afterward, Nephi saw a series of scenes depicting the mortal ministry of the Savior.
About six hundred years later, after the birth of the Savior, Nephi’s descendants endured a series of battles and a lengthy siege. When it was over and the enemy had been defeated, the people shouted:
Hosanna to the most high God.
Blessed be the name of the Lord God Almighty, the most High God.
(3 Nephi 4:32)
Only a few years later, following His death and resurrection, the Savior appeared to a group of people on the American continent. He introduced Himself to the multitude, and then invited them to come forward and feel the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet. When they had all done so, “they did cry out with one accord, saying:”
Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God!
(3 Nephi 11:27)
In 1829, Joseph Smith received a revelation on behalf of Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Among other things, Martin was instructed to:
Speak freely to all; yea, preach, exhort, declare the truth, even with a loud voice, with a sound of rejoicing, crying—Hosanna, hosanna, blessed be the name of the Lord God!
(Doctrine and Covenants 19:37)
Then, on Sunday, March 27, 1836, the Kirtland. Ohio Temple was dedicated. As part of the dedicatory prayer, Joseph Smith pleaded with God to allow the assembled members of the church to “mingle [their] voices with with those bright, shining seraphs around thy throne…singing Hosanna to God and the Lamb!” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:79) After the prayer, the choir sang a hymn composed for the event by W. W. Phelps: The Spirit of God. The chorus of the hymn included the words “Hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb.” The meeting ended with the full congregation participating in the Hosanna Shout. Here’s how Joseph Smith described it:
We sealed the proceedings of the day with by shouting hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb, three times, sealing it each time with amen, amen, and amen
[History of the Church, 2:427]
Today, as I think about the Savior, I will remember the many connotations of the word “Hosanna.” I will plead with Him for deliverance from the challenges I face with confidence that He is the one who came in the name of the Lord, the Lamb of God, who has the power to provide the needed salvation.