On Palm Sunday morning, an interesting bit of pageantry takes place in some liturgical churches. As the opening processional moves around the sanctuary, it will pause in one corner, and a soloist or a small group of the choir will sing the ancient Latin canticle Gloria, laus et honor or its English equivalent "All Glory, Laud and Honor." When the song is completed, the processional moves on and the service continues. This tradition may be based only upon a legend, but it has been perpetuated for more than a thousand years.
It is said that in the year 821 King Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, was participating in the Palm Sunday procession through the streets of Angers in the region of Orleans. As the parade stopped near a prison tower, suddenly a melodious voice was heard singing "Gloria, laus et honor." The emperor learned that the vocalist was Theodulph of Orleans, a great pastor, bishop and poet whom he had jailed on suspicion of treachery against the crown. Whereupon, so the story goes, "the gentle and merciful monarch was moved with compassion, and from that hour he delivered and pardoned him, and sent him back to his church, quit and absolved of the crime whereof he had been accused."
There are puzzling aspects to the story of Jesus' "triumphal" entry into Jerusalem, the event we remember on this Sunday of the church year. Four hundred fifty years earlier the prophet Zechariah had written: "Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, 0 daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass" (Zech. 9:9). Yet it is quite probable that those who waved the palms never knew that they were fulfilling prophecy.
Jesus was offering Himself to the Jews as their promised Messiah and King. But they desired and expected a mighty deliverer who would rescue them from the legions of Rome and restore to them the glory of their ancient kingdom. Many of them were attracted by the miracles which Jesus had performed, and therefore were willing to join the shouting crowds that day. But when they were asked about His identity they said only, "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth, of Galilee." No Messiah, no king, no promised deliverer; just Jesus, a prophet of Nazareth.
Of course, our Lord's disciples — at least some of them — had recognized Him. Several weeks earlier, Simon Peter had said to Him, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). It may be that it was the disciples (see Luke 19:37-38) who started the chant that day, "Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest" (Matt. 21:9). Many of the multitude joined in the cry, possibly without fully realizing what they were saying. Doubtless, some of the same people were part of another crowd which, only a few days later, shouted: "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
There will be many in our churches today, repeating these verses of praise, whose singing will be as meaningless as it was many years ago. If we are to praise Christ properly, He must be King in our hearts and Lord of our lives — sovereign over body, mind and spirit. Because the ancient Hebrews were not prepared to accept Him as "spiritual King," Jesus knew that it was not time to be their temporal ruler. But the day will come when He will return as a glorious Monarch. Revelation 19:11,16 pictures Him as seated on a white horse; and "he . .. was called Faithful and True... And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
Christ desires our praise and our adoration; He deserves it, and He knows that it is through worship that our lives are purified and made complete. When the Pharisees asked Jesus to restrain His disciples in their jubilant praise, He said, "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." Yes, Jesus must be praised; nature will do it if man will not!
Today, let us join with the children of that first Palm Sunday, with all those who truly accepted Him as Lord, with the angels on high, and with the saints of all ages, singing "All glory, laud and honor to Thee, Redeemer, King." - Hymn story by Tedd Smith