Posted by: deerharas | April 5, 2009

Hosanna

Hosanna.  It’s a churchy word.  Perhaps you’ve heard it today, being Palm Sunday and all.  I’ve never really liked the word, mostly because I identify it with some really cheesy praise choruses.  I’ve heard it as an exclamation, like “Glory!” or “Hallelujah!”, and I figure most people don’t even know what they’re saying.  It wasn’t until a few months ago that I developed an appreciation for the word, and over the past couple days that it has become my own cry.

I wrote last about my upcoming impromptu trip to Indiana for the Andrew Peterson Resurrection Letters Easter tour.  Back in October, however, some friends and I heard him play a free show a tad bit closer (only about 30 minutes away) promoting his latest album entitled “Resurrection Letters, Vol. 2.”  He played through the album in its entirety with a short commentary prior to each song.  One song he entitled “Hosanna” and went on to explain how the word is a transliteration from the Hebrew meaning “Save us, now.”  This is what the Jews proclaimed, quoting Psalm 118 as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  Andrew mused that this simple word serves a dual purpose.  First, to cry out, “Save me,” is to admit that I need saving.  But it is also an acknowledgement that Jesus is able to save.  Both confession and praise.

Fast forward to this past Thursday.  As I arrived at the church where the concert was held, they handed out bulletins (okay, maybe I should call them programs; I can’t escape my “churchy” roots) with the order of service, or “set list” if you will.  After a few songs from each of the artists involved with the tour and a short intermission, the show entered into a progression of hymns and songs sung by Andrew and Jill as well as readings crafted by Andrew, tracing the last week of Jesus’ life.  Beginning with Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, Jill sang “Hosanna” from her album Kingdom Come (which I’ve written about before) followed by Andrew’s song of the same title.  I want to share the words here, since as of late they have become both my confession and praise.  Hosanna.

I am tangled up in contradiction.  I am strangled by my own two hands.  I am hunted by the hounds of addiction.  Hosanna!  I have lied to everyone who trusts me.  I have tried to fall when I could stand.  I have only loved the ones who loved me.  Hosanna!  O Hosanna!  See the long awaited king come to set his people free.  We cry O Hosanna!  Come and tear the temple down.  Raise it up on holy ground.  Hosanna!

I have struggled to remove this raiment, tried to hide every shimmering strand.  I contend with these ghosts and these hosts of bright angels.  Hosanna!  I have cursed the man that you have made me.  I have nursed the beast that bays for my blood.  Oh, I have run from the one who would save me.  Save me, Hosanna!  O Hosanna!  See the long awaited king, come to set his people free.  We cry O Hosanna!  Come and tear the temple down.  Raise it up on holy ground.  Hosanna!  We cry for blood, and we take your life.  Hosanna!  We cry for blood, and we take your life.  It is blood, it is life that you have given.

You have crushed beneath your heel the vile serpent.  You have carried to the grave the black stain.  You have torn apart the temple’s holy curtain.  You have beaten Death at Death’s own game.  Hosanna!  O Hosanna!  Hail the long awaited king, come to set his people free.  We cry O Hosanna!  Won’t you tear this temple down, raise it up on holy ground.  O Hosanna!  I will lift my voice and sing: you have come and washed me clean. Hosanna.

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