What does Hosanna mean and why do we say it on Palm Sunday?

Words mean so much. When we pray as a community at Mass, our words mean even more as we speak with one voice to God. That’s why the words we pray at Mass are chosen with such care and purpose. Hosanna is one of those words. It simply means ‘Save us’ in Hebrew, but in the nearly 3,000-year-old Biblical tradition it stood as a one-word prayer calling out for a Messiah. We sing hosanna each Mass as part of the ‘holy, holy, holy’ prayer, when we ask Jesus to come and renew us once more in the New Covenant of His Body and Blood. We also sing hosanna on Palm Sunday when we celebrate and recall Jesus’ dramatic entry into Jerusalem during the original Holy Week. We hear the crowd saying, ‘Hosanna, Son of David!’ and we join in because we believe Jesus is the Chosen One, the Messiah come to establish a new age of God’s grace. In short, we say hosanna because God has answered our one-word prayer with a One Word answer: Jesus.

By Father Dominic Buckley, March 29, 2022

Father Buckley, is a priest of the Diocese of Orlando and doctoral candidate who serves as director of pre-theology and assistant professor of philosophy at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.