And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
'Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!' Blessed is any coming and going that comes so: Hosanna to him, God bless him, or Hosanna for him; God be blessed for him, whoever he be. All that went before, and all that follow, all men will say so.
And yet in nominee Domini incipit omne malum, saith Luther once, "in the name of the Lord begins all mischief.' (and we still find it so) the whole game of mischief begun and carried on in nominee Domini, 'under the name of God,' as the Lord's work. How should we do, then, to discern the right in nomini Domini, when he who comes in the name of the Lord comes truly so? Many ways, peradventure, may be given to know it by, but this is the shortest. If the multitudes that went before, and that followed after, cry Hosanna to him; if the saints of former ages and their successors approve the manner of his coming; if it be in a way the Church of Christ has from its first beginning allowed for [the] Christian; that is, if he come meek and lowly, humbly riding upon an ass, with palms and olives, the ensigns of peace and love; then he comes in nomine Domini right: but if proud and scornful, with horse and chariot, sword and spear, instead of [1/2] olive boughs and branches, with a sword to cut in sunder the bond of peace and unity, and a spear to keep off charity, let him cry out in nomine Domini, and no more; a mere pretence and name, no Domini, nothing in it really of God; neither the multitidues before, nor multitudes that follow, nor any of the primitive Christians ever sung Hosanna, gave any blessing or approbation, to such comers or their comings. He that comes here in the text, came nothing so; and he that will come after him must not come so: Hosanna to no such.
But Hosanna to him who truly comes in the name of the Lord: God's blessing with him. to him that comes so in the text, 'to the Son of David,' to Him no question. It is the business, both text and time; the words in hand, the days in hand, the days of holy Advent, are to teach us to sing Hosannas to our Saviour, to bless God for his coming, to bless him for his coming, all his comings, all his ways of coming to us; to bless his day that is a--coming, whence all his other comings come; to bless him in the highest, with heart, and tongue, and hand, to the highest we can go, that he may also bless us for it in the highest.
That it might be done better, Holy Church has designed four Sundays to prepare us for it, wherein to tune our pipes, and fit our instruments and voices to sing Hosanna in the right key, the highest pitch, to praise God as is fitting for Christ's coming.
A business sure well worth the doing, and some good time for it worth the observing, if we think him worth it that is here spoke of as coming, or his coming worth it. Indeed, the coming in the text is not the coming of that feast that is now a-coming, but it is one of the ways prescribed by the Church for our better coming to the Feast, by preparing with these multitudes some boughs and branches, some Hosannas and Benedictuses, some provision of holy thoughts and divine affections for it. They 'that went before' and they 'that followed,' in the text, sung Hosanna for a lesser coming of Christ's than that was in the flesh: we may well do it for a greater, especially making this in the text a degree or note to ascend to that, one coming to [2/3] usher to the other; the humility of His coming to Jerusalem, a way to exalt the greater humility of His coming into the world. And we have the multitudes before, and the multitudes that follow; all Patriarchs before rejoicing with Father Abraham at his day, and all the Fathers since; all who went before or followed since His coming former and later Christians for our example. They all, in their several generations, thought fit yearly to remember it; and so long, even four Advent Sundays together, to prepare the multitudes and people for it; that so, by preaching to them the way and the manner of all Christ's comings, they might: 1. Perfectly be instructed who it was, and is, who truly comes blessed 'in the name of the Lord,' and not be deceived by pretenders and pretences; and 2. Also truly and duly giving the blessing where it ought, sing the Hosanna when, and where, and to whom we should, celebrate the memory of Christ's coming right, and Hosanna it as is meet.
Thus did all who went before; and it is fit they who come after should do as much, unless they were wiser or better than all who went before them. And all will do it; but those who are afraid to have their comings discovered to be no comings 'in the name of the Lord,' by the unlikeness of their comings; afraid to lose their in nominee, the name however, to have the multitudes that follow them fall off from them, if they should be taught by day, or time, or text, how far different their ways and comings are from the humble lowly comings and ways of Christ, whose name they so much pretend to come in, though their own name be the only name they truly come for.
Better example we have here before us, and by God's blessing we will bless with them follow them in blessing Christ, both himself and coming, in the time and manner all that have followed him ever did it. And to do it better, and more according to text and time, let us consider
I. Who they were that here blessed Christ for his coming: 'The multitudes that went before, and that followed:' both of them, says the text.
II. What was their way of blessing, how they did it, ðkrazon, says the Evangelist; they 'cried,' cried it aloud.
III. Their song of blessing, what they cried, 'Hosanna to [3/4] the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.'
When we have thoroughly considered these particulars, there will remain nothing but a word of exhortation to follow them that thus go before us; as they cried it and sung it before, so are we still to cry it and sing it after them. I begin with the persons, that we may, in the first place, know whom it is we follow, the "multitudes that went before, and that followed.'
And that to the letter is no more than those companies of people, men, women and children, who went out to Mount Olivet to meet our Saviour at His coming to Jerusalem, when He came riding thither upon an ass, some them before Him, some behind Him, crying out Hosanna.
Many they were, it seems, and not a single multitude neither, Ôcloi, multitudes in the plural, several multitudes that did it: and though it be no argument to prove anything good or lawful because the multitudes do it, yet when the multitudes do good, it is good to take notice of it; nay, when so many do it, it looks the better. The song of praise sounds never better than in the great congregation, and among much people; the music never sweeter in the ears of heaven than when the choir is fullest; a good note to teach us to fill holy assemblies, to bear our parts in the congregation.
And in this congregation, 2, the music, it seems, has all its keys and voices; men, women and children all sing their parts; no sex or age to think themselves exempted from bearing part in God's service: though the Apostle will not suffer women to preach and teach, he will give them leave to sing and pray, to answer the responses, antiphones, and versicles, the Hymns and Psalms; the little children, too, to learn betimes to lisp them out; no better seasoning of their mouths than with prayers and praises to their Redeemer.
Nor, 3, were these multitudes merely the rout of people; these were men of all conditions in them, though it may be not many Josephs or Nicodemuses, yet some, no doubt,--so many of the rulers having had their sick servants, or wives, or children healed by Him. There are none too good or great for God's service. It is no disparagement to any man's [4/5] honour to be among those multitudes that go out at any time to meet Jesus; no dishonour to say Amen with the meanest in them, to join with them in any part or point of God's service. You may remember the nobility of the Bereans above the Thessalonians is, by the scripture heraldry, placed in this, that 'they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily;' in short, were more religious, and devout, and earnest in the way of Christ, to worship him, than the other.
Nor, 4, were these multitudes choirs of priests and clerks, or only orders of religious men; it was a congregation of seculars, though there were priests and apostles in it. It is St. Chrysostom's own note, to tell us, men are not to be put off the work of devotion and religion wholly to the priest and clerk, as if they only were to sing the Benedictus, Hosannas or Alleluias, and the multitudes only stand looking on; or think men in some religious orders were only obliged to live orderly and like Christians, all secular or laymen as they pleased. Says he, 'It is not so indeed, it is not so.' It is this, 'it is plainly this,' this false opinion or fancy, 'that ruins all the world.' Behold the multitudes here going before, crying, and the multitudes following after, answering them in their 'Hosanna to the Son of David;' all ranks of people, the most secular, so religious grown since Christ's coming. It is to be feared He is going from us, or will be quickly, if we omit our parts, if we forget our duties, if we once begin to think too much of bearing part or share in His service, either in the congregation or out of it.
But, 5, however, they who pretend to go out and meet Christ, to have more sense of devotion and zeal to it than others, they above all surely will be easily heard in their Hosannas or Benedictus. The more devout we are, we sing the louder; the more earnest we be to meet our Lord, the [5/6] more welcome shall we give Him, the higher gratulations and acclamations to Him. If we pretend to love Him more than others, then more prayers and praises to Him than others; if we love Him more, they will be more, and we shall not be ashamed to profess it in the multitude, or think much to be in the multitude among the meanest or poorest at it.
Surely not; seeing, 6, the Jews themselves think not much to do so, seeing them so ready, so eager, so violent, in giving honour to him, can it be expected that Christians should be behind? But they before, and we no behind? Too much it is that they before and we behind; it should be rather, we get before us, we should sure in measure get it, go there before them. Christ came to them, and they go out to meet Him. He comes to us, and we go from Him. He came to them at this time with a sad message of destruction, and therefore weeps in the mount of His triumph to look upon the city, and yet they entertain him with Hosannas. Blessed be the name of the Lord, so come things to pass. He comes to us with tidings of great joy, such the angels term it, His birth no other coming; yet we think much to sing Hosannas for it, to keep a day of praise, or a song of praise, or a face and garb of praise; the more unChristian they who do so, less sensible of Christ's favours than the very multitude, than the Jew himself. Rare Christians the while, they think no better, speak no better, rejoice no better at Christ's coming, at His greatest and most gracious coming.
I cannot say this multitude, to the letter, and in the story, are any unanswerable argument for our Hosannas. Yet when a multitude does well, it is good to follow them; but take it now, 2, in the mystery, and there needs no greater to persuade us.
The multitudes before are, in the mystery, the holy Patriarchs, and they that followed are the Prophets. Now what the Patriarch and Prophets have rejoiced at, that must we. Abraham says, Christ himself 'rejoiced to see my day, he saw it and was glad.' Yes, your father Abraham was glad. He was glad to see Christ a-coming. The Prophets are [6/7] everywhere full of joyful expressions at the mention of the Messiah's coming; their eyes looked, and their hearts longed for him; and the Prophet Zachary calls us to tell it out with joy to the daughter of Sion, tells punctually even of this very joy and coming too. and 'what was written beforetime,' either by Patriarch or Prophet, 'was written for our learning,' says the Apostle. We may do what they did, what they would have us.
Or, 2. The multitudes before in the mystery are the Jews; the multitudes that follow are the Gentiles. Both bidden by the Apsotle[St. Paul] to rejoice, 'Rejoice, you Gentiles, with His people;' His people, the Jews, before, and the Gentiles behind, all will rejoice in his salvation: for glory is now coming to the Jews, glory to His people Israel, and light unto the Gentiles, to light them by His coming. So sang old Simeon in his song.
3. The multitudes before is the Jewish synagogue; the multitudes behind, the Christian Church; a multitude, indeed, that cannot be numbered, of emperors, and kings, and princes; bishops and priests; doctors, martyrs, confessors, and virgins, all in their several orders and generations, crying, 'Hosanna to the Son of David, the whole world gone after Him.' Before, indeed, only Notus in Judæa Deus, God only known in Jewry; his coming only talked in Israel; but after, Quam, admirabile nomen tuurm in universa terra! 'O Lord our Governor, how wonderful (or excellent) is thy name in all the world! ... All these multitudes--the Jew, with his multitude of patriarchs, priests and Levites, and singers, and prophets, with his sacrifices of bulls, and rams, and goats, and sheep, of types and figures, all crying out Messiah is coming; the Christians, apostles, martyrs, confessors, doctors, virgins, bishops, priests, and deacons, and all several orders in their choirs and churches throughout the world, crying out, He is come; all the corners of the earth resounding out Hosanna and Alleluias to Him. Una est fides praecedentium atque sequentium populorum, says St. Gregory; all believing and professing the same He who comes here; they, the Jews, before crying, 'He that cometh;' we, the Christians, crying 'He that is come,' or rather, He that cometh still, that every day comes to us by His grace, [7/8] and through His word, and in His sacraments: 'Blessed is he that cometh' still, not a tense or tittle changes; he that comes being the same for ever; eternity and things eternal being ever coming, never gone or going.
So now the congregation is full, what should we do but begin our service? When we have Law, and Prophets, and Gospel to countenance and bear us company in our Te Deum and Benedictus, at our prayers and praises, in our joys and festivals; all of them crying nothing but Christ, nothing but Christ, blessed be He, blessed be He, and blessed be His coming, and blessed be His day, and blessed be His deeds; the whole practice of all Christian churches and congregations that ever were gathered together in nomine Domini, till these mere nominal verbal Christians, who are afraid of the name of Him who comes, of the name of Jesus, of blessing it or bowing at it; all Christians, all who came before in the name of Christ, till these pretenders who follow nobody but their own fancies; all agreeing in the same welcome to their Redeemer, joining in the same prayers and praises: what should we do but add our voices and sing with them? Better, sure, with the multitudes before and behind, the whole multitude of saints of so many ages, than with a few scattered, headless, heedless companies forbear it; better pray and praise with them, than prattle and prate with these; better their Hosanna and Benedictus to Him 'that cometh in the name of the Lord,' than these men's senseless sermons and discourses, who comes in their own name, and of their own heads, without God's sending them at all. Having, then, so full a choir, so many voices to bear us company, let us also now sing with them.
Yet that we may be sure to sing in tune, let us first listen a little to the key and the note they bless in: it is a loud one, for it is crying; 'they cried:' not in the sense we often take it, for a mournful tone or note (for it is an expression of joy and gladness; so S. Luke xix.37, 'They began to rejoice.'&c.), but with a loud voice it was they praised Him, that tis the meaning, so expressed in the same verse by that Evangelist.
Indeed true it is, God has turned our songs of joy into the [8/9] voice of weeping; (as the prophet complains); taken away our feasts and gaudy days; and we may well cry, and cry aloud in that sadder sense of the word 'crying:' yet for all that, must we not lay down the other, or forget the song of prayer and praise, especially upon the point of Christ's coming to us. Here it must be crying in another tone, singing, speaking, proclaiming the great favour and honour of Him 'that cometh in the name of the Lord.' Blessing, and honour, and glory to him that so cometh. Now that we be not out in tuner or note, let us mind the word; we shall find the sweetest ways of blessing in it.
1. It is a loud crying, such is ðkrazon; and that teaches us to be devout and earnest in our prayers and praises, in blessing Christ.
2. It is loud and to be heard, to instruct us not to be ashamed of our way of serving Christ; he who is, Christ will be ashamed of him; so Christ professes, S. Mark viii.38.
3. It is the crying of a multitude, many multitudes; and intimates to us what prayer and praises does best, even the public and common service.
4. It is the crying of several multitudes the same thing, and insinuates peace and unity; that is the only Christian way of praising God: one God, and one faith, and one Christ, says the Apostle [St. Paul], and one heart and mind of all who profess them; and it were best one way of doing it; the same Hosanna, the same Benedictus, the same voice and form of prayer, and praise, and worship, if it could be had.
5. It is of some before, and some who follow; it is not a confused or disorderly note or way, huddling and confounding all together, but the voice of order, where every one sings in time, in tune, and place; some begin and others follow, and the chorus joins, all in decency and order. This to preach decency and order to them who come in at any time or call anywhere upon the name of Christ; even the very multitude here in Christ's praise keep their parts and order.
6. It is a crying, yet of joy, we told you, the voice of mirth and gladness, that we may know Christ is best served with a cheerful spirit. Christianity is no such dull, heavy thing as some have fancied it; it admits of mirth and songs, so they be in nomine Domini, either to the praise of God, or not [9/10] to His dishonour, so they be not light, or wanton, or scurrilous, or such like.
7. This crying here is general, and our praises of God must be so too; all that is without me, and 'all that is within me, praise His holy name:' all the powers of my soul, superior and inferior, all the organs of my body, all the instruments of my life and living, my estate and means, all to concur in giving praise to God, in celebrating the mercies, the humilities, the condescensions, the out-goings, and in-comings, of my Redeemer.
Thus we have the key and tune of blessing God and Christ devoutly, confidently, publicly, unanimously, orderly, cheerfully, and universally, with all our faculties and powers. Let us now hear the song of praise, 'Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he,' &c. And that we may sing in tune, let us know our parts.
Three parts there are in it as in other songs, the bassus, tenor, and altus the bass, the tenor and the treble. 'Hosanna to the Son of David;' there is the bass, the deepest and lowest note, the humanity of Christ in filio David, being 'the Son of David:' the bass sings that, that is low indeed for him, we can go no lower. 'Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord;' there is the tenor or middle part, he and the name of the Lord joined together, God and man united--that is a note higher than the first, the Mediator between God and man; God in the highest, Son of David in the lowest; the middle note follows. And Hosanna in altissimis, the altus or treble, the highest note of all: we can reach no higher, strain we never so high.
We begin low, that is the way to reach high; 'Hosanna to the Son of David:' yet as low as it is, it is hard to hit, hard to reach the meaning of it. Hosanna, a hard note, so interpreters have found it.
St. Augustine will have it an interpretation only, to express rejoicing, like that \ië HaÐan among the Greeks, or Io triumphe among the Latins. The truth is, it is an expression used by the Jews at the Feast of Tabernacles, a joyful acclamation, enough to authorize common and received expressions of joy, though it may be that use them do not [10/11] perfectly understand them; especially joy inexpressible (such as ours should be for the 'Son of David's' coming) may be allowed to express itself as it can, or as it does in other rejoicings, when it can do no better.
Some interpret it redemption; others, an hymn or praise; others, grace; others, glory; others, boughs 'to the Son of David:' all yet concur in this, that it is a joyful wish for prosperity to Christ, under the title of 'the Son of David:' grace, redemption, praise and glory, psalms and hymns, and all the other outward expression of thanks, respect, and joy be given to Him who now comes to 'restore the kingdom of his Father David.' Nothing too much to be given to the Messiah, for him they always mean by 'the Son of David:' no inward or outward joy enough for the coming of our Redeemer.
But though 'Hosanna' mean all these several renderings, yet the construction is no more than Salvum fac or salve obsecro, 'Save, we beseech you,' like our Vivat Rex, 'God save the King. Save the Son of David, we beseech you,' and save us by 'the Son of David.' For both it is: a prayer to God to preserve and prosper him, that he may have good luck with his honour, and ride on; and a prayer to God to save and deliver us by and through Him, or to Him to do it; Salva obsecro, O filio David, 'Save us, we pray you, O Son of David.'
By the time you understand 'Hosanna' to be both a prayer and a thanksgiving, a short collect and a hymn both, an expression of rejoicing for Christ's coming, with a prayer that it may come happy both to him and us. Thus you have it in Psalm cxviii.24, 25, whence this seems either to be taken or to relate. 'This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it;' there is the voice of rejoicing; then follows 'Help me now, O Lord; O Lord, send us now prosperity:' the prayer upon it.
It is an easy observation hence, that our rejoicings are to consist in prayers and praises, in hymns and collects; no true Hosannas to Christ, no true blessing Him but so; no keeping Christmas or any feast without them. To spend a day in idleness, or good cheer, is not to keep holiday: to [11/12] keep Christmas is not to fill our mouths with meat, but our lips with prayers and praises; not to sit down and play, but to kneel sown and prayer; not to rest from work and labour, but, by some holy rest and retirement from temporal labour, to labour so to enter into eternal rest. The business of a 'holiday' is holy business; 'Hosanna' business of Christmas, Christ's coming so to be solemnized with solemn prayers and praises, and thanksgivings.
And there is more than so in this 'Hosanna.' It was the close of certain prayers and litanies used by the Jewish synagogues; like our Libera nos Domine, our 'Good Lord deliver us,' in our litanies. They first reckoned up the names of God; God, Lord, King of kings, etc., and to each 'Hosanna,' all echo out 'Hosanna,'--save and help, and prosper us. It is no new thing, it seems, or of popish origin, to use public litanies and liturgies; it is but what the Church of God has ever had in use; the way, from the beginning, it always served him in. The very petitions of the Lord's prayer are taken out of the Jewish Seder, or Common-Prayer Book; and if Christ Himself, who wanted neither words nor spirit to pray, thought fit yet not withstanding to make use of received expressions and ancient forms, I conceive not why any who profess Him should think themselves wiser than their Master, and reject old and accustomed forms of prayers and praise.
That teaches us to pray the Messiah that Christ may reign, that His kingdom may prosper and be enlarged; that we ourselves may be of it, and prosper in it; that we may have redemption and salvation, grace and glory; sing hymns and songs of praise to Him, both in His kingdom here upon earth, and in His kingdom in heaven. This the way of entertaining Him at His coming, to entertain ourselves, and time, in blessing Him for His goodness, and desiring of His blessing.
And yet, besides, there is as much faith as devotion to be [12/13] here learned from the multitude, in this 'Hosanna.' There is an acknowledgement of His office, that He was Messiah. They it seems, believed it. I suspect they who love not to have a day to mind them of His becoming 'the Son of David,' of His nativity, do scarce believe it. If they thought His coming real, we should have some real doings at it; they would be as busy in it as the best. Were filio David well grounded in us, did we really believe him, 'the Son of David,' we would also become the sons of David, who was a man of prayer and praise,--sons of praise, sing Hosannas as fast as any. It is only want of faith that hinders works; we believe not in Him as we should, whatever we talk, else we would do to Him as we should, accept all His comings, even upon our knees, at least with all thankfulness, and such devotion as time and place required of us.
And, 2, we would raise our voices a note higher, add Benedictus to Hosanna: 'Blessed is he that cometh,' &c. Bless God, and bless Him, and bless His coming, and bless His goodness, and bless His power, and bless His fullness, and bless His work, and bless Him purpose; desire God to bless Him, and man to bless Him, and also bless ourselves in Him; for no less than all these is in the words.
'Blessed,' first, 'be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; blessed be the Lord God of Israel,' that 'He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a mighty salvation for us in the house of His servant David.' So old Zachary, s. Luke i. 68,69. Blessed be God the Father, for the Son; God the Father, for the Son of David's coming to us.
Blessed, 2, be the Son; blessed be he that cometh, blessed be our Lord Jesus Christ for His coming; for to Him is blessing due, that he would vouchsafe to come and bless: bless the Father for sending, the Son for coming; blessing to them both for thus blessing us.
Blessed, 3, be His coming, all His comings; His coming in the flesh, His coming in the Spirit, His coming in humility, His coming in glory. His coming in the flesh, that is a blessing coming for us, whereby all other blessings come unto us; His coming in the Spirit, or by His grace, a blessed coming too, and still daily coming; His coming in glory, [13/14] that may be a blessed coming to us too, if we bless Him duly for His other comings: if we truly and devoutly rejoice at His first and second comings, no doubt but we shall also triumph at His last. That He comes, came, and will come unto the end, is blessed news; we therefore with these multitudes so bless Him for it.
Blessed, 4, be His goodness, and that is evident enough in His coming to us: bless Him for that He would be so good to come, when all good was going from us, when we ourselves were gone away from Him, ran away as far as well we could, that He would come after us.
Blessed, 5, be His power and authority, for 'in the name of the Lord' He comes, not in His own name, but in the Father's who sent Him; confess, acknowledge, submit to His power and authority, that is the true way to bless Him.
Blessed, 6, be His greatness and fullness of blessing; blessed be His blessedness, for He is full of blessings: in Him all fullness is and dwells. 'God blessed for ever.' Let us make this acknowledgement of Him, profess and proclaim it as they do here call Him, the ever blessed.
Blessed, 7, be all His works, actions and passions, the works of our redemption, justification, sanctification, glorification, which all come to us only through His name and merits. Attribute we all to Him and to His name: 'Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Your name be the praise' and glory of all these great and wonderful things.
Blessed, lastly, be all His purposes and intentions towards us. He came to reveal His Father's will unto us; bless Him for that; bless we should all such who make known unto us the will of God. Beati pedes evsngelizantium, 'Blessed be the great feet of the ministers of the Gospel,' much more this great Archbishop of our souls who sends them. He came to glorify the Father, to teach us to do so; bless Him for that. He came to glorify the Father. to teach us to do so; bless Him for that. He came to save and deliver us from all kinds of evil, however we wilfully thrust daily into it some or other; bless him for that; say all good of Him, who wishes and works all good to us: but, which is only truly to bless, further we all purposes what we can, and help them forward, that He and we may be glorified by the hand.
For this blessing is not merely a form of words; we must, [14/15] 1, earnestly and heartily desire God to bless, to bless all Christ's ways of coming to us, that we may joyfully, and cheerfully, and devoutly entertain him. Desire God, 2, to bless him who comes in His name, whoever he be, that He sends to us; but this `O rcÒmeuoj especially, that his coming may come abroad. Desire, 3, that man bless Him; incite the sons of men to sing praise too unto Him. 'Praise Him all, you nations; praise Him, all you people;' strive what we can to get all we come nigh to come with us, and bear a part in blessing Him.
In a word, bless we ourselves in Him; think, and profess, and proclaim ourselves blessed that Christ is come to us, that we have our part and portion in him; place all our joy, all our rejoicing, all our triumph that He is with us, that 'the name of the Lord is declared' unto us, that we are now of His retinue, that we now belong unto Him, that He is daily coming in us.
And for this Hosanna, now, 3, in excelsis indeed, 'Hosanna to Him in the highest:' sing we it as loud as we can reach, as loud as we can cry it.
And that may pass for the first interpretation of in excelsis, that we are to cry it as loud as we can cry it, do what we can to express our joy, how we can to give Him thanks, to exalt His praise what we are able, in excelsis, 'to the highest' of our power; so, 1, 'Praise Him in the height.'
We all of us in excelsis, in our highest, yes, and 2, the very highest, the very most in excelsis of us all, the highest of us, is too low to praise Him worthily; yet praise Him, O you highest, you kings and princes of the earth; 'Kings of the earth and all people,' come down from your excelsis, and lay your crowns and sceptres at the feet of this King, (as S. Luke) that cometh, and submit all your kingdoms to the kingdoms of Christ; make you all your kingdoms to bless His, that your kingdoms also may be blessed.
Nay, and yet there are higher than these highest, who are to praise Him: 'Praise Him, all you heavens, Praise Him, all you angels: praise Him, all His hosts.' So, S. Luke intimates it when he expresses it, 'Peace on earth, in heaven, and glory [15/16] in the highest;' glory in heaven for the peace that is made between heaven and earth by Him who comes here in the name of the Lord; by whom, says the Apostle [St. Paul], all things are reconciled, 'whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. Hosanna in the highest,' for this peace with the highest, sung be it by heaven and earth, by angels and men. The angels sang somewhat a like song at His birth when He was coming into the world, according as S. Luke interprets it; and will sing it again if we invite them, as the Psalmists does, to sing with us; and we must desire it, that God may be praised: all glory both in heaven and earth.
That is the way, indeed, to 'Hosanna in the highest,' as it is a song of praise; but it is also, we told you, a prayer, that even our praises, and the ground of them, may continue.
A prayer, 1, to God in excelsis, the most high, as the Psalmist speaks, 'Save us, O You most high.' No salvation but from those everlasting hills of mercy, salvation to be looked for from none else; the very meanest of the multitude know that.
A prayer, 2, for salvation in excelsis, that He would deliver us with a high hand, work salvation with a mighty arm, such as all the world might see it; that He would magnify this King who comes, and exalt His kingdom that comes to the clouds, set it above the reach and power of malicious men, make it grow and prosper, maugre all contradiction and opposition of the highest and strongest of the earth.
A prayer, 3, for salvation in excelsis, indeed, for salvation in the highest heavens; not only to be delivered here, but to be saved hereafter; not only for grace and righteousness here of the highest pitch, but for glory of the highest order; a prayer that God, as He has exalted Him who here came in His name, so He would exalt us, all who call upon His name, to sit at His right hand in heavenly places, in the highest right. So these multitudes pray, and so pray we; so praise they, and so praise we. Do what we can ourselves to praise and bless Him, and do what we can to get others to do it; call upon the angels to join with us, do it with all our might and strength, stretch out our voices, screw up our strings; nothing content or satisfy us in our prayers or praises, but [16/17] the highest,--the highest thankfulness, the highest devotion, the highest expression and way of both, that either the multitudes before, or the multitudes that follow, Jews or Christians, former or latter saints, ever used before us.
All perhaps, cannot spread carpets, cloths, and garments to entertain Him, or have all boughs of palms or olives to meet Him with; all have not wherewith to make a solemn show and flourish; but all have tongues, all may sing Hosannas to Him; or if that word be hard, all may cry, 'Save us, Lord,' and 'Blessed be He that came and cometh.' If we have neither substance to praise Him with, nor solemn ceremonies allow us to praise Him by, nor solemn services permitted to pray to Him, or to praise Him, we have yet words, and psalms, and prayers to do it with, and times and places that none can hinder us. And if we set about it in excelsis, with high courage, such as becomes the servants of the Highest, and neither fear the face of man nor devil; we may do it in excelsis too, with high solemnities. Our Hosanna to be saved, 'Save us O King of Heaven, when we call upon You;' our prayers will save us from anything that can hurt us; He who is in the highest will succour and defend us, preserve and bless us: and if we follow Him strongly with our cries, follow these multitudes close in their devotion to follow Christ, sing out His praise with courage, pray with fervency, go out to meet Him with joy, entertain Him with gladness, own His coming with confidence, celebrate it with holy worship, do all to the highest of our powers: our Hosannas will be quickly turned into Alleluias, our blessings Him into being blessed ourselves by Him, and we, with all the saints who went before or followed Him, sing Benedictuses and Alleluias in the highest; to the highest God in the highest heavens, for ever and ever. Amen.