All glory, laud, and honor
to thee, Redeemer, King!
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
Thou art the King of Israel,
thou David's royal Son,
who in the Lord's Name comest,
the King and Blessed One. Refrain
The company of angels
are praising thee on high;
and mortal men and all things
created make reply. Refrain
The people of the Hebrews
with palms before thee went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before thee we present. Refrain
To thee before thy passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to thee, now high exalted,
our melody we raise. Refrain
Thou didst accept their praises;
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest,
thou good and gracious King. Refrain
Words: Theodulph of Orleans (ca. 750-821), ca. 820
Trans. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), 1854,
as altered in Hymns Ancient and Modern
I love Palm Sunday. When I was growing up, the various churches we attended did not always celebrate with actual palms. In fact, I have no concrete memory of ever being in a Palm Sunday processional until I was a married adult and had begun going to the Episcopal Church. Every year since, I've been so thankful to be in churches (all Episcopal/Anglican) that invite us into Holy Week with a narrative reading of the passion reading and a processional with palms.
This year I felt especially moved by the processional. It was pouring rain, so we couldn't start outside like usual. We ended up processing upstairs to our unfinished/unrenovated third floor, and walking around that large space, then going back down the stairs on the other side of the church building and processing back into our basement "sanctuary." I loved watching the Sweet Girl toil up the stairs, waving her palm, and then skip beside me, her eyes wide as she noticed the palm branches waving in the hands of our fellow congregants.
Maybe because I'm the parish administrator, thus the person who maintains the parish prayer lists, I felt much more "in tune" this year with the lives and needs of the people processing around the room. I felt acutely aware of the fact that each person walking around waving the sign of Jesus' victory was a loved and precious son or daughter of God. Each of them is living an ordinary life, and trying to live it to God's glory. The four month old babe in arms will be baptized next week; that grandmother who came in early with her five year old granddaughter so they could set the communion table together has been rejoicing in new found health after recently losing thirty pounds; the tall, very pale man with the somber eyes was recently diagnosed with cancer and just started chemo last week.
Times change, the details of life circumstances change, but people really don't -- not their needs, their bodies, minds and spirits, their hearts. Just as the first people to laud and honor Jesus with palm branches desperately and achingly needed his loving kingship, so too those of us who walked in their footsteps today. The biggest difference is that we're on the other side of his cross and resurrection, so we know more of the story of which we're a part. I wonder how many of the people who lined the road to Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday became a part of the first community of the Way, and remembered the triumphal entry as Jesus' first step toward Golgotha.