The Hosanna Shout heard in Missouri
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It is safe to say that the Hosanna Shout has not been heard in western Missouri since Adam gathered his righteous posterity to Adam-ondi-Ahman three years before his death.[i] Then, on May 6, 2012, the Hosanna Shout was heard there again. Like a great chiasmus, bookending the first and last dispensations, this last Hosanna Shout from the “center place”[ii] heralded an event that will change the course of history forever.
Come and Save Us Now
The word hosanna, writes Elder Bruce R. McConkie, is “a word of Hebrew origin, meaning literally, save now, or save we pray, or save we beseech thee - is both a chant of praise and glory to God and an entreaty for his blessings.”[iii]
Elder McConkie explains that the word, hosanna, hearkens to Psalm 118: “Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.”[iv]
Anciently, during the Feast of the Tabernacles, when the Jews were commanded to gather to the temple, a priest would daily recite this psalm during a processional around the altar. The covenant people had been commanded to “rejoice before the Lord,”[v] and on the seventh and last day of the feast, which was called the Great Hosanna, they would stand before the temple with trumpets sounding, wave palm branches and shout hosanna over and over.
Essentially, the Hosanna Shout is simultaneously “whole-souled” praise “given to the full limit of one’s strength” and a cry for the Lord to come and save us now. We stand in the holy sanctuary that we have erected to his name, praise him, and plead for him to come and rescue us. By doing so, we fulfill “the instruction to bless the name of the Lord with loud voices and ‘with a sound of rejoicing,’ with ‘hosanna to him that sitteth upon the throne forever.”[vi]
At the capstone ceremony of the Salt Lake Temple, “President Wilford Woodruff said, in substance: ‘If there is any scene on the face of this earth that will attract the attention of the God of heaven and the heavenly hosts, it is the one before us to-day-the assembling of this people, the shout of ‘Hosanna!’”[vii]
On that occasion, Lorenzo Snow explained to the congregation, “This is no ordinary order, but is--and we wish it to be distinctly understood--a sacred shout, and employed only on extraordinary occasions like the one now before us."
Then speaking to the whole-souled praise that we should render to God and the Lamb, he urged, "We wish the Saints to feel when they pronounce this shout that it comes from their hearts. Let your hearts be filled with thanksgiving," adding, "Now when we go before the temple and this shout goes forth, we want every man and every woman to shout these words to the very extent of their voice, so that every house in this city may tremble, the people in every portion of this city hear it and it may reach to the eternal worlds." He finally told the congregation that the sacred shout "was given in the heavens when 'all the sons of God shouted for joy' [Job 38:7]."[viii]
“President Woodruff later told a congregation of Saints that ‘the Heavenly Host were in attendance ... and if the eyes of the congregation could be opened they would [have] seen Joseph and Hyrum [Smith], Brigham Young, John Taylor and all the good men who had lived in this dispensation assembled with us, as also Esaias, Jeremiah, and all the Holy Prophets and Apostles who had prophesied of the latter day work.’ President Woodruff continued, ‘They were rejoicing with us in this building which had been accepted of the Lord and [when] the [Hosanna] shout had reached the throne of the Almighty,’ they too had joined in the joyous shout.”[ix]
Come, Lord Jesus
We recall that the multitude invoked words similar to the Hosanna Shout in an exultant cry of praise when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem: "Hosanna to the son of David. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest."[x]
Praises that double as pleadings for the Lord to come and save us appear in the scriptures. For example, on the occasion of Jesus’ birth, the angels burst forth in song to the shepherds in a Hosanna Shout-like anthem that heralded the coming of the Lord: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”[xii]
After the Nephites had all gone forth to “thrust their hands into [Jesus’] side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet...they did cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.”[xiii]
Consider the imagery of the Hosanna Shout. We must be found worthy to stand in the holy place: the Lord’s house or a place temporarily designated as an extension of the temple. We ordinarily stand on our feet, face the east, where, we are told, he will come. We wave white handkerchiefs[xiv] as if to beckon him, much like worshipers waved palms when the Messiah rode into Jerusalem.
Then in the Zion like spirit of oneness, we unitedly follow the servant of God while exulting: “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, To God and the Lamb; Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, To God and the Lamb; Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, To God and the Lamb; Amen, Amen, and Amen!”[xv]
On March 27, 1836, the day of dedication for the Kirtland Temple, “Joseph Smith...rose to offer the dedicatory prayer, which he had received by revelation (D&C 109). In it, the Prophet pleaded with the Lord for the visible manifestation of his divine presence (the Shekhinah), as in the Tabernacle of Moses, at Solomon's temple, and on the day of Pentecost, ‘And let thy house be filled as with a rushing mighty wind, with thy glory.