"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!" (Mark 11:9,10).

Advent ushers in the new church year. On the first Sunday of Advent we sing "Hosanna". Hosanna is praise, but it is also a humble prayer. What do we pray for when we sing Hosanna?

Hosanna means: Help, save, grant success and blessing. Dr. Luther explains it like this: "Grant success and happiness to this Son of David, as He establishes His new kingdom. Let Him establish it in God's name, so that it will be a truly blessed kingdom that will prosper." When the people sang Hosanna to Jesus, they confessed that Jesus from Nazareth was the promised Messiah and they prayed that He and His kingdom would succeed and be blessed.

Among the people there were many who did not understand the real meaning of the prayer. They were soon ready to cry out: "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" (John 19:6). Some of the people were waiting for an earthly king, who would free them. Their prayer was not granted. But the prayer of those, who prayed that the Lord and His kingdom of grace would be successful, was granted. Christ, you see, atoned for our sins and in this way obtained God's grace for us.

But what do we pray for when we sing Hosanna? Are we just giving vent to our emotions and joining in the festive spirit, without thinking of its meaning? If this is the case, then God says: "Take away from Me the voice of your songs" (Amos 5:23). When we join in singing Hosanna we earnestly pray, and thank and praise God that He answers our prayer. We pray that Christ and His kingdom will be successful here in this world. He has already established His kingdom by redeeming us lost and condemned sinners, and by saving us from all sin, from death and the power of the devil with His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death, that we might be His own and live in His kingdom. We do not pray that Christ would come to redeem us. He has already done this. But we pray that His kingdom could come into people's hearts. We pray that believers would remain in faith and that more and more people would be converted and believe in Jesus.

Christ's kingdom spreads only by means of the Gospel. When we sing Hosanna we pray that the preaching of the Gospel will bear fruit, we pray that Christians will courageously confess Christ's doctrine, and that God will send pastors and teachers who faithfully abide in Christ's Word. We also pray for ourselves. We pray that we may be faithful servants in Christ's kingdom.

Hosanna to the Son of David! Beautiful praise and a beautiful prayer but also one that places us under an obligation.