Please Deliver Us!
“All glory, laud, and honor
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel
and David’s royal Son,
now in the Lord’s name coming,
the King and Blessed One.”
— Theodulf, Bishop of Orléans (c. 820)
As we begin our journey into Holy Week, we find ourselves on Palm Sunday, the day that we remember and celebrate the day Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey. Upon arrival, a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and cloaks across the road. These hundreds of pilgrims, filled with skeptics and saints, toted fresh palm fronds and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” [to read the entire story, visit Matthew 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–10; Luke 19:28–44; John 12:12–19.]
Palm Sunday set the stage for the days to follow and fulfilled the prophecy spoken hundreds of years earlier, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9 [New International Version]. This holy day is a marker in the proclamation of the Lordship of Jesus.
Today, many believers in homes and cathedrals worldwide come together, re-performing the liturgy wherein we hail Jesus as king. As we reorient our humanity to the liturgy of the Palm Sunday Biblical story, we actively declare God’s power and note who He is and what He has done through this palm-filled festive celebration. As we use the words, Hosanna (which in Hebrew means, “I beg you to save,” or “please deliver us.”) we position ourselves under his rule and reign. Jesus, we cannot accomplish ________ (fill in the blank) without you. We beg you to save us!
The people of the Hebrews
with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before you we present.
One of the often-overlooked portions of Palm Sunday liturgy, and one of my favorite concepts, is that we all will take place in the celebration of Palms one day. In Revelation 7:9 [New Century Version], we learn that those in Christ will all raise majestic palm fronds before Christ one day. “After the vision of these things, I looked, and there was a great number of people, so many that no one could count them. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language of the earth. They were all standing before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”
Until that day, may our hearts be turned toward our King.
To you before your passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted,
our melody we raise.
As you received their praises,
accept the prayers we bring,
for you delight in goodness,
O good and gracious King!
Please pray with me:
Almighty and eternal God, in your tender love towards humanity, you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take on himself our flesh and to suffer death on the cross.
Grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!
Source: Book of Common Prayer/Common Worship¹, after Gelasian, historic collect for Palm Sunday.
The prayer above was expanded from a shorter Latin original (Gelasian) that reads:
O God, you sent our Savior to become truly human and suffer death on the cross as an example of humility and patience to be imitated by the human race.
Mercifully grant that we may be worthy to have the assurance and the fellowship of his resurrection; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!