What does the word hosanna mean?

What did it mean when the multitude welcomed Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna”?

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At Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the people shouted “Hosanna.” Some paraphrase this as “hooray” (see the Contemporary English Version of Matthew:21:9). But really hosanna is from the Hebrew words “Hoshiah Na! Save now! or, Save, we beseech thee!—redress our grievances, and give us help from oppression!” ( Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible ).

The Hebrew phrase was used by people asking a king to help or save them. For example, “When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and paid homage and said, ‘Save me, O king’” (2 Samuel:14:4, English Standard Version). This type of request is also found in 2 Kings:6:26.

The multitude welcoming Jesus Christ was likely alluding to Psalm 118, a messianic psalm where the Hebrew phrase is translated “Save now” (Psalm:118:25).

So, not only was the multitude acknowledging Jesus Christ as King and praising Him, they were asking Him to save and deliver them in Matthew:21:9: “Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna in the highest!’”

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dust_i_am's picture

So would UCG allow people to shout "Hosanna" during a worship service? If not, why not based on these verses?


dziwczyna's picture

Part of the problem of shouting out things during services is that it's disruptive. The other part is that God already knows what's in our hearts. Things can be done for a pretense, just like the Pharisees did during Christ's time (Matt 6, 23). Christ instructed us to do certain things in secret (Matt 6).

Aaron Booth

Aaron Booth's picture

I think of the scriptures in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 that talks about orderly worship. Especially verse 33 - "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." and verse 40 - "But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." To me it would seem like disorder if people were shouting during services. I would think during the hymns (songservice) would be a good time to express praise towards God and Jesus Christ.


Skip's picture

Who could stop a person from spontaneously shouting "Hosanna!"?
But would UCG allow anyone to rise up and disrupt services?
Not for long.

I've attended a Pentecostal service. It was very disappointing. The one lone speaker in tongues seemed to be disassociated even from her brethren. And no one told anyone else what the gibberish meant.

But again, I've heard a few audible "Amens" during God's Church services. Something important was being delivered & people were moved.

Why do some simply WANT to be noticed? Good question.

Ken Graham

Ken Graham's picture

Hi dust_i_am:

Shouting anything, let alone Hoshana is not appropriate in Church services. The reason: I Corinthians 14:33. God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." Shouting during the service is disruptive, causes others to lose concentration, is disrurbing to some, and in general causes confusion. So, no, in the UCG churches we try to maintain order and eliminate anything that causes "confusion" in our services.

The UCG website has an article on Church services that might make good reading for you:


Best Regards,

jeremiah akuoko1

jeremiah akuoko1's picture

please according Matthew:21:9)the hosanna is better than amen,in my opinion, so please if a pastor preach, in the church services and he said praise the lord can congregation say hosanna once?.

Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture

Hi Jeremiah,

I think some of the other comments above, especially those from Ken Graham, are helpful. It’s important to look at our motives when praising God. Shouting or calling out during the time a pastor is preaching tends to draw the congregation’s attention away from the speaker and instead toward the one saying “hosanna.”

Our Father definitely encourages us to praise Him and His Son, but some settings are more appropriate than others. We are encouraged to lift up our voice in personal, private prayer at home (Ps:77:1; Mt 6:5-6). I have also on occasion said a short, silent prayer if moved to do so during a church service.

The hymn-singing portion of United Church of God worship services also gives us an opportunity to praise our Father in psalms taken directly from the Bible.

Sermon time is primarily for personal instruction and expounding of God’s Word. But since our services are opened and closed with prayer, those are good opportunities to express worship (if we agree with the words of the prayer) with a simple Amen, which means “so be it.”

We can also worship God in our fellowship with other believers before and after the service (Eph:5:19; Mal:3:16).

The context of Matthew:21:9 shows that it was not in the synagogue but in the streets that the crowds were calling out their “hosannas.”

I hope this is helpful to you.

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