Seven Songs to Celebrate Palm Sunday

In many churches, the Sunday before Easter serves as a celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, in which the Bible records that local waved palm branches in his honor.

Known as Palm Sunday, the day begins what is called Holy Week, a time on the liturgical calendar that includes Holy Thursday, which recalls the Last Supper, Good Friday, which recalls the Crucifixion, Holy Saturday, and finally Easter.

The observance will often involve members of a congregation taking palm branches and waving them during worship, especially the opening processional of the service.

Here are seven songs that are used to celebrate and contemplate the significance of Palm Sunday. They include works ranging from Medieval times to this very century.

All Glory, Laud and Honor

The hymn “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” was written by Bishop Theodolph of France circa 820 as he was imprisoned by King Louis I over allegedly plotting against the monarch.

Theodolph originally wrote 78 verses or 39 couplets for the sacred song, which according to legend led to his eventual release from prison.

“According to the legend, King Louis visited Angers, where Theodolph was imprisoned, and heard Theodolph singing this hymn in his cell as a part of his daily worship,” noted

“Moved by the beauty of the hymn, the king pardoned Theodolph and had him released from prison.”

Rejoice, the Lord is King

A hymn from the prolific pen of Charles Wesley, brother to Methodism founder John Wesley, “Rejoice, the Lord is King” was written in 1746 and originally published in Hymns on the Great Festivals and Other Occasions.

Jarrod Johnston of the Perkins School of Theology wrote that the hymn text reflected an “evangelistic focus” due to it being written around the founding of the Methodist movement.

“Since the early Methodists were calling people toward Christ, it is possible that this text is not so much for congregants in attendance but for people who do not yet know the majesty of Christ,” wrote Johnston.

“The text itself sums up in simple terms much of who we believe Christ was and still is: Christ is our Savior, King, and Judge.”

The Palms

“The Palms” was composed by famed nineteenth century French opera singer and actor Jean-Baptiste Fauré and is also known as “Les Rameaux.”

A 2018 entry on the Patheos blog “The Deacon’s Bench” described “The Palms” as “a triumphant piece of choral music” which is “a perennial feature at my parish on Palm Sunday.”

One popular recording of the choral piece was made several years ago at the Crystal Cathedral of Orange County, California and uploaded to YouTube on Feb. 28, 2012.

O Worship the King

Sir Robert Grant, a native of British-controlled India and member of Parliament, composed the popular hymn “O Worship the King,” which was posthumously published along with a few other musical works of his in the 1830s.

The hymn’s lyrics were inspired by Psalm 104, reading in part “You are clothed with honor and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a tent, you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind, you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers. You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken. You cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.”

“’O Worship the King’ draws upon the splendor of 19th-century monarchy as a metaphor for the magnificence of the Almighty,” wrote C. Michael Hawn of the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

“Attributes of an earthly monarch are magnified to communicate the characteristics of the King of kings—one who by nature cannot be described.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski