In light of the Brigham City Temple dedication service coming up this Sunday, I thought I'd do a little reading up on the Hosanna Shout. In my life, I've only participated in the Hosanna Shout a few times as it's quite the rare occasion that permits its use.
The Hosanna Shout has its roots in the Old Testament. The ancient Feast of the Tabernacles consisted of a choir that sang psalms including phrases similar to our "Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, to God and the Lamb!" Rather than waving white handkerchiefs as we do now, they waved palm branches. The symbolism is the same. It's a plea for peace and a prayer for salvation - particularly to send the Savior. Anciently, a priest would pour water from a golden pitcher as the gathered waved their branches to the psalm. The picture of water represented the sending of the Savior from heaven to earth. [Old Testament Student Manual]
Though we no longer use a picture of water in the convocation, our modern temples also use water as a symbol. Such temples are referred to as "mountains of the Lord". Mountains are the source of water. They fill the streams that allow growth and prosperity in lower ground. The water represents the inspiration and light of heaven flowing down to earth. We receive that light in its purest-taught form in the temple. This is why each of our modern temples have some type of pool or fountain. Even in the dry climate of St. George, the temple is landscaped with a fountain at the entry.
So the Hosanna Shout includes a symbol of peace to be waved as a victorious cheer. The victory is through Christ's Atonement. When He rode back into Jerusalem, those who understood what was to happen also laid palm branches for Him to ride over - the highest version of red carpet this planet has ever seen. They waived them in the air as well. The word "Hosanna" means to "save now". This meaning is not lost over time. When we dedicate a temple to the Lord, we petition Him to save us through the temple blessings and covenants.
One significant difference between the ancient Feast of the Tabernacles and our modern solemn assemblies that contain the Hosanna Shout is that we no longer ask to send the Savior to perform the Atonement. We live in a time after the crowning event. But our waving of the handkerchiefs still celebrate the victory of the Atonement, and of course, everything we learn in the House of the Lord is hinged on His successful Atonement. If anything, our asking to send the Savior is for Him to come again and reign during the millennium.
So when you dig up your old white handkerchief or as you're buying a new one this week for the dedication on Sunday, think of our dependency on the Savior and on the light we require in order to progress. This is why we plea for God to "save now". And why we wave the peace symbol in celebration of the Atonement. Participating in the Hosanna Shout should be a humbling experience that causes us to realize how much we need the Lord's enabling power and His help.