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Hosanna is a liturgical word in Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, it is always used in its original Hebrew form, Hoshana.

Liturgical use in different traditions


"Hoshana" (הושענא) is a Hebrew word meaning please save or save now. [1] 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").[2]


"Hosanna" (Greek transcription: ὡσαννά, hōsanna) is the cry of praise or adoration shouted in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem, Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord![3] It is used in the same way in Christian praise.

Overall, it seems that "Hosanna" is a cry for salvation; while at the same time is a declaration of praise. Therefore, it may be derived that this plea for help is out of an agreeably positive connotation.

The old interpretation "Save, now!" which may be a popular etymology, is based on Psalm 118:25 (Hebrew הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא hOshEeah-nna) (Possibly "Savior"). This does not fully explain the occurrence of the word in the Gospels, which has given rise to complex discussions.[4]


The word hosanna is etymologically derived from the Hebrew הושיעה־נא, hôšî‘â-nā’. Christian usage has come through the Greek Bible, giving it the form ὡσαννά, hōsanná.

  • From the Bauer lexicon: derived from Aramaic (הושע נא) from Hebrew (הושיעה נא) (Psalm 118:25, הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא), meaning "help" or "save, I pray", "an appeal that became a liturgical formula; as part of the Hallel... familiar to everyone in Israel."
  • From the Friberg Lexicon: hosanna, indecl. particle translit. fr. the Heb.; strictly, a cry expressing an appeal for divine help "save! Help, we pray!"; in a liturgical usage, a shout of praise and worship "hosanna, we praise you" (Matthew 21.9).
  • From the UBS Lexicon: hosanna (in Aramaic), an exclamation of praise literally meaning, "Save, I pray".
  • From the Louw-Nida Lexicon: hosanna (an Aramaic expression meaning "help, I pray" or "save, I pray," but which had become a strictly liturgical formula of praise) a shout of praise or adoration - "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. Mt 21.9 may also be rendered as "praise to you, Son of David" or "we praise you who are the Son of David" or "...a descendant of David."

Other examples of modern usage

The "Hosanna Anthem",[5] based on the phrase Hosanna, is a traditional Moravian anthem written by Bishop Christian Gregor 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.

Harry Belafonte recorded a song entitled "Hosanna" on his popular 1956 album Calypso.

"Hosanna" is also the name of one of the songs featured in the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. The song occurs in the scene in which Jesus rides on a donkey into Jerusalem, as in the above Biblical passages. Jesus is mocked by the high priest Caiaphas while his followers praise him as the Messiah.

British rock band Kula Shaker's first track on their 1999 album Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts is titled "Great Hosannah".

The English band Killing Joke uses the word in their 2006 album "Hosannas from the Basements of Hell".

"Hosanna" is also the title of a song by New Zealand singer Brooke Fraser, 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; a song by Paul Baloche on his 2006 album A Greater Song; and another song by gospel artist Kirk Franklin.

Argentinian music and comedy group Les Luthiers recorded "Gloria Hosanna, That's the Question" on their 1971 album Sonamos Pese A Todo.

In the 1972 musical 1776, a song entitled "Cool, Cool Considerate Men" uses Hosanna repeatedly in the refrain to celebrate John Adam's absence from the Continental Congress.

A. R. Rahman composed a song titled "Hosanna" for the 2010 Tamil movie Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. Here the word is used as an exclamation of joy when a man sees his love.

See also


  1. See ArtScroll Siddur, p. 727.
  2. See ArtScroll Siddur, p. 726; so also in Syrian usage; cf. Palm Sunday.
  3. Matthew 21:9,15; Mark 11:9-10; John 12:13.
  4. 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. 
  5. The Moravian Hymn Book with Services (authorized for use in the British Province of the Moravian Church), 1960

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