AskDefine | Define hosanna

Dictionary Definition

hosanna n : a cry of praise or adoration (to God)

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings



  1. the cry of praise or adoration shouted in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem and since used in the Christian Church


Catalan: ossanna, hosanna French: hosanna


  1. a cry of hosanna!

Extensive Definition

Hosanna is a liturgical word in Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, it is always used in its original Hebrew form, Hoshana.

Liturgical use in different traditions


"Hoshana" (הושענא) is a Hebrew word meaning please save or save now. In Jewish liturgy, the word is applied specifically to the Hoshana Service, a cycle of prayers from which a selection is sung each morning during Sukkot, the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. The complete cycle is sung on the seventh day of the festival, which is called Hoshana Rabbah (הושענא רבא, "Great Hosanna").
This festival was associated with a ceremonial drawing of water which, it was believed, secured fertilizing rains in the following year; the penalty for abstinence was drought. The festival suggested a Dionysiac celebration to the ancient Greek writer Plutarch.


"Hosanna" (Greek transcription: , hōsanna) is the cry of praise or adoration shouted in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem, Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! It is used in the same way in Christian praise.
The old interpretation "Save, now!" which may be a popular etymology, is based on Bible verse |Psalm|118:25|HE (Hebrew הושענא hOshEeah-nna). This does not fully explain the occurrence of the word in the Gospels, which has given rise to complex discussions.


The word hosanna is etymologically derived from the Hebrew , . Christian usage has come through the Greek Bible, giving it the form , hōsanná.
  • From the Bauer lexicon: derived from Aramaic (הושע נא) from Hebrew (הושיעה נא) (Bible verse |Psalm|118:25|HE, ), meaning "help" or "save, I pray", "an appeal that became a liturgical formula; as part of the Hallel... familiar to everyone in Israel."
  • From the Friberg Lexicon: hosanna, indecl. particle translit. fr. the Heb.; strictly, a cry expressing an appeal for divine help "save! Help, we pray!"; in a liturgical usage, a shout of praise and worship "hosanna, we praise you" (Matthew 21.9).
  • From the UBS Lexicon: hosanna (in Aramaic), an exclamation of praise literally meaning, "Save, I pray".
  • From the Louw-Nida Lexicon: hosanna (an Aramaic expression meaning "help, I pray" or "save, I pray," but which had become a strictly liturgical formula of praise) a shout of praise or adoration - "hosanna; blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord" ; "hosanna in the highest" ; "hosanna to the Son of David" . Mt 21.9 may also be rendered as "praise to you, Son of David" or "we praise you who are the Son of David" or "...a descendant of David."

Other examples of modern usage

The "Hosanna Anthem", based on the phrase Hosanna, is a traditional Moravian anthem written by Bishop Christian Gregor sung on Palm Sunday and the first Sunday of Advent. It is antiphonal, i.e. a call-and-response song; traditionally, it is sung between the children and adult congregation, though it is not unheard of for it to be done in other ways, such as played between trombone choirs.
"Hosanna" is also the name of one of the songs featured in the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. The scene to which the song applies features Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem, as in the above Biblical passages. Jesus is mocked by the high priest Caiaphas while his followers praise him as the Messiah.
British rock band Kula Shaker's first track on their 1999 album Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts is titled "Great Hosannah".
"Hosanna" is also a song by New Zealand singer Brooke Fraser, released on the 2007 Hillsong United albums All of the Above and live on Saviour King.
The English band Killing Joke uses the word in their 2006 album "Hosannas from the Basements of Hell".

See also


hosanna in Amharic: ሆሣዕና
hosanna in German: Hosianna
hosanna in French: Hosanna
hosanna in Hebrew: הושענות
hosanna in Lithuanian: Osana
hosanna in Lingala: Ozana
hosanna in Dutch: Hosanna
hosanna in Norwegian: Hosianna
hosanna in Russian: Осанна
hosanna in Finnish: Hoosianna
hosanna in Swedish: Hosianna

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Agnus Dei, Benedicite, Gloria, Gloria Patri, Gloria in Excelsis, Introit, Magnificat, Miserere, Nunc Dimittis, Te Deum, Trisagion, Vedic hymn, alleluia, answer, anthem, antiphon, antiphony, applause, canticle, chant, cheer, chorale, chorus of cheers, cry, doxology, hallelujah, hooray, hurrah, hurray, huzzah, hymn, hymn of praise, hymnody, hymnography, hymnology, laud, mantra, motet, offertory, offertory sentence, paean, psalm, psalmody, rah, report, response, responsory, shout, versicle, yell, yippee
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