This Sunday’s Music: Palm Sunday

Can you believe it? Where has the time gone? We are at the sixth week of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, which we affectionately call “Palm Sunday” but this day, in reality, has a much more profound significance. Today we call not only the entrance of King Jesus into Jerusalem amidst a sea of — yes! — palms but also the Passion and Death of our Lord at the hands of those very people who lauded Him. Don’t forget what we told you on Ash Wednesday: there is a “full circle” undertone to this day in that today’s palms will be what we wear on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday of next year, i.e. February 26, 2020!

You can check out our music on our weekly Youtube playlist below and also by visiting our growing Youtube channel (at


A tradition characteristic of Palm Sunday is the very theatrical opening: 1. the procession to commemorate the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem — we will do this at the 11:00 AM and the 12:30 PM Masses —, 2. the reading of Luke 19:28-40 almost as a “prologue” to the tone of the Mass to follow, and 3. the blessing of the palms. As we finished last week’s liturgy, so we begin today’s with that fun song that has no clue what to call itself because of oral tradition. I Will Call Upon the Lord? O, Magnify the Lord? Blessed Be the Rock?


Now, all those who will have gathered at the park on the corner of 96th and Lexington and will have made their way to the entrance of our humble but gorgeous church will now process in as did Jesus on that fateful day. Meanwhile, we celebrate with John Angotti’s almost Godspell-like song with that strange word we sing every week but really don’t understand: Hosanna. It is a topic of debate, but the consensus rests on its signifance as a jubilant cry appealing to divine help.


Similar to our Psalm a few weeks ago (34), Psalm 22 is extensive in its subject matter. It transitions from a cry for salvation to thankfulness for salvation. Ain’t that fitting? As we said, “Hosanna” implies a cry for salvation. Our Church Fathers knew what they were doing when they strung together the readings that now form our lectionary. Not to mention that Jesus quoted this Psalm on the cross…

Only Love

A very recent addition to the gospel canon of hymns, Only Love by Patrick D. Bradley puts forth in one simple line, the entire purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice:

Only love held Him there on the cross.

As we are reminded in that almost excessively famous quote from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And ain’t that the Gospel truth?


Throughout Lent, fittingly more than any other time, we have highlighted African-American spirituals to accent our musical journey toward the Resurrection. Seemingly ad nauseam we sing in this classic hymn the word “Calvary.” What exactly is it? Well, similar to the very name of Jesus, which has been filtered through several languages from the original “Yeshua” in Aramaic/Hebrew, “Calvary” comes from “Golgotha”, which, as we find out in the Passion reading, means “The Skull.” Listen to the verses of this hymn. You’ll hear something familiar: the lyrics of Jacob’s Ladder!

The holy city

Just as we had two weeks ago on Laetare Sunday, so we have today a word du jour. What is it? “Hosanna!” Amidst the sorrow of our Gospel, we sing as our meditation hymn the refrain of a song by Stephen Adams that lifts the cheers of joy on Palm Sunday above the shouts of condemnation on Good Friday:

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Lift up your voice and sing,
”Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to our King!”

Jerusalem, My Destiny

A classic from Rory Cooney, Jerusalem, My Destiny was conceived as a meditative hymn for the season of Lent, but many churches sing it as we do today. With majesty, we affirm our belief in our home to come: the New Jerusalem — which is the actual theme of The Holy City (Jerusalem). We all have our crosses to bear, but in our faith in Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Lord, our Savior and our Redeemer, we are assured of the promise in our cross-laden journey: we will be lifted up on the last day and reign in our heavenly home!