The Sacred Hosanna Shout!

Between 30,000 and 50,000 people gathered to shout "Hosanna!" for the capstone-laying ceremony of the Salt Lake Temple in 1892.  Photo by Charles Ellis Johnson.

Between 30,000 and 50,000 people gathered to shout "Hosanna!" for the capstone-laying ceremony of the Salt Lake Temple in 1892. Photo by Charles Ellis Johnson.

This last Sunday as I participated in the Hosanna Shout at one of the dedication sessions of the Draper Utah Temple, I thought that it might be interesting to research this form of praise and worship, and how it’s been used in the past. During the services President Uchtdorf related some of the occasions on which this shout has been given, such as when Jesus rode into Jerusalem triumphantly (Matthew 21; Mark 11; John 12), or when Christ appeared to the people in the Americas in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 11). But when else has this shout been given, particularly in the latter days, and under what circumstances? 

I found that Dr. Richard Holzapfel, a scholar at Brigham Young University, already has researched and wrote about this on the Religious Studies Center Blog yesterday.  Dr. Holzapfel notes that it was precisely 173 years ago today that the Kirtland temple was dedicated, and the Hosanna Shout was given.  The majority of his post deals with the shouts that were given in conjunction with the capstone-laying ceremony and formal dedication services of the Salt Lake Temple.  Of the capstone ceremony he writes:

President George Q. Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency, said “that there may be no misunderstanding about the manner in which the shout of Hosanna should be given when the capstone should be laid, Pres. Lorenzo Snow would drill the congregation in the shout.” Then President Snow said, “This is no ordinary order, but is—and we wish it to be distinctly understood—a sacred shout, and employed only on extraordinary occasions like the one now before us.” He urged them with these words: “We wish the Saints to feel when they pronounce this shout that it comes from their hearts. Let your hearts be filled with thanksgiving,” adding, “Now when we go before the temple and this shout goes forth, we want every man and every woman to shout these words to the very extent of their voice, so that every house in this city may tremble, the people in every portion of this city hear it and it may reach to the eternal worlds.” He finally told the congregation that the sacred shout “was given in the heavens when ‘all the sons of God shouted for joy’ [Job 38:7].”

President Woodruff later gave an profound insight about the sacred dedicatory services:

President Woodruff later told a congregation of Saints that “the Heavenly Host were in attendance at the [first] dedication [service] . . . and if the eyes of the congregation could be opened they would [have] seen Joseph and Hyrum [Smith], Brigham Young, John Taylor and all the good men who had lived in this dispensation assembled with us, as also Esaias, Jeremiah, and all the Holy Prophets and Apostles who had prophesied of the latter day work.” President Woodruff continued, “They were rejoicing with us in this building which had been accepted of the Lord and [when] the [Hosanna] shout had reached the throne of the Almighty,” they too had joined in the joyous shout.

I remember when President Hinckley said almost the same thing at the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple while I was on my mission in El Salvador.  He said that Joseph Smith and many of the early Saints and prophets were in attendance.  Surely they too joined in shouting Hosannas to God and the Lamb!

See Dr. Holzapfel’s full post entitled “Hosanna!

11 Comments

  1. elizabeth-w
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    I recently attended the Twin Falls dedication (Aug 08). It was the first temple dedication I’d been to. I was seated in a stake center, and was prepared to shout–or least not whisper. But there was very little shouting going on-it was all rather subdued. I wonder if it just feels too awkward for us to shout in a place we spend our developmental years being told to “shhhhh!”
    What was your experience at Draper?

  2. Posted March 27, 2009 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I was in my stake center too for the Draper temple dedication session. We had a modest shout, but probably not compared to the early days of the Church. I don’t think we’re as used to shouting praises today. If there ever was a time to shout, it would be for Hosanna.

  3. Matthew B. Brown
    Posted March 28, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Here is a link to an article (PDF) that might be of interest.

    Jacob W. Olmstead, “From Pentecost to Administration: A Reappraisal of the History of the Hosanna Shout,” Mormon Historic Studies, vol. 2, no. 2, Fall 2001, 7-37.

    http://www.mormonhistoricsitesfoundation.org/publications/studies_fall2001/Mhs2.2OlmsteadFall2001.pdf

  4. Posted March 28, 2009 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Excellent! Thank you for sharing this article. I’ll be very interested to read it.

  5. Posted March 29, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I remember doing the Hosanna Shout for a temple dedication. Now, after reading this, I wish we had been more hearty in our cheers.

  6. Marsha Ward
    Posted May 23, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Today I attended the dedication of the Gila Valley Arizona Temple in my stake center in Payson, Arizona. Our shout was also muted, almost whispered, but I think it may have been so because of the effect of the emotions we were feeling. I know I was tremendously choked up, and I’d say a lot of others were, too.

  7. Posted March 1, 2011 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    I, for one, am going to encourage a real shout at the next temple dedication I attend. That would be the Atlanta Temple. I think it is a shame to barely hear a whisper when the shout should be a SHOUT. It is because we are timid and afraid. Well I used to be timid and afraid but no longer. I am going to work with the authorities to implement this. I hope others will join me in this goal.

    I attended the Los Angeles Temple many years ago and the shout was barely audible. I was, as I said, timid and shy. I was embarrassed that I didn’t take the responsibility to change the situation on the spot. This time I plan to change the situation. If I am the only one shouting then so be it.

  8. Miles Hoffmann
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    In the October 2000 Conference for the closing message that Sunday Afternoon, President Gordon B. Hinckley let the congregation to perform the HOSANNA SHOUT for the dedication of the new Conference Center in SLC. Then, the actual shout was allowed and definitely audible.

  9. P White
    Posted June 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Is it ever OK to practice the Hosanna Shout, say in Relief Society?

  10. Walter B. Kerr
    Posted June 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I made a comment on March 1, 2011 about my experience at the Los Angeles Temple dedication where the Hosanna shout was subdued. I mentioned my plans to make the Atlanta re-dedication in 2011 different. I contacted stake authorities and unit leaders and let it be made known that the shout has been performed in early years to the capacity of our lungs. I talked to everyone I knew and encouraged a real shout.

    It was worth the effort. Everyone agreed that we should SHOUT not talk. When the time came I was prepared to, if necessary, to start the shout. I didn’t need to. Everyone started with a healthy shout and we all shouted to the capacity of our lungs. What a great spiritual experience. Anyone who wants to can start the ball rolling to encourage a worthy shout. May others become aware of the ease by which the proper way to shout can be implemented.

  11. Posted June 13, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I remember the Hosanna Shout for the dedication of the Columbus Ohio Temple was somewhat subdued
    yet it was of more than normal talk. Some were more energetic than others, it really should have been louder.
    I was in chapel that was the satellite location for the services. If I get to another location for a dedication,I will
    be more energetic.

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