Palm Sunday: Ride On, Ride On in Majesty

Text: Henry H. Milman, 1827

Tune: CHICKAHOMINY, Henry B. Hays, 1981
From Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Click here to listen:

As a child I loved Palm Sunday morning. All the Sunday School kids would proudly march down the aisles of our church, waving branches and singing a song with Hosanna! as one of the lyrics. I always thought Palm Sunday was a celebration – and it is. But it marks the beginning of one of the most dramatic weeks in human history that I was not able to understand when I was waving palm branches as a kid.

This Sunday’s hymn captures the irony of Palm Sunday. The people are joyfully hailing the King that they will crucify less than a week later. Luke’s account of Jesus entering Jerusalem says that the people “began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!'” Luke 19:37b-38.

Jesus is the King of Kings. He was welcomed into Jerusalem as a king, but he never ruled from an earthly throne. The hymn says he came in lowly pomp. He rode into Jerusalem in a parade of praise, but he knew he had come to Jerusalem to die. Christ first bows his head and submits to the cross before he takes his seat at the right hand of God to reign as King. The adoring crowds did not anticipate this type of king when they were waving the branches and shouting. And only days later, the crowds were not shouting “Hosanna” but “Crucify.” How quickly we change our tune when things don’t turn out the way we hoped they would.

I didn’t really understand Palm Sunday as a child, but I realize that I don’t really fully understand it as an adult. The King of Kings chose to finish his time on earth in such an unexpected way. It was unexpected from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem that we celebrate today, to the washing of his disciples’ feet that we commemorate on Maundy Thursday, to his death and apparent defeat on Friday. And then his unexpected resurrection from the tomb on Easter day. I pray that the Holy Spirit can open our eyes to the mystery and the irony of the humble, meek Savior bowing his head to die for our sins, and prepare us for the week ahead as we commemorate his passion and resurrection.

Ride on, ride on in majesty 
as all the crowds “Hosanna!” cry; 
through waving branches slowly ride, 
O Savior, to be crucified. 
Ride on, ride on in majesty, 
in lowly pomp ride on to die; 
O Christ, your triumph now begin 
o’er captive death and conquered sin! 
Ride on, ride on in majesty, 
the last and fiercest foe defy; 
the Father on his sapphire throne 
awaits his own anointed Son. 
Ride on, ride on in majesty, 
in lowly pomp ride on to die; 
bow your meek head to mortal pain, 
then take, O God, your power and reign! 

In All Things, Give Thanks – Guest Post by Amymarie Schmidt

At the start of this Lenten season, I asked some friends to help out by providing some guest posts. Last week I shared a wonderful post and song by my sister and brother-in-law. If you missed it, you can find it here.

This week, I am excited to share a post by my good friend, Amy Schmidt. Check out her blog   one filament against the firmament   Seriously, check it out. It’s really great.

Lent represents the 40 days Christ spent in the desert. I’ve been thinking a lot about deserts but not in regards to Jesus and His 40 days spent there.

I’ve been thinking about the Israelites & their 40 year punishment in the desert.

In the last 32 years of my life, the story of the Israelites, their escape from Egypt and their subsequent wandering has been recounted to me in endless ways.  I’ve sang songs about it, with absurd hand motions and obnoxious melodies.  I’ve made dioramas of it, with little people made out of popsicles sticks and a Moses with a cotton beard down to his popsicle stick knees.  Then, in my more mature years, I heard about it in sermons, heard it likened to many things in the metaphors of popular worship songs.  Even compared my life to it, claiming some melodramatic trial I was going through similar to their plight.

I’ve done everything but actually read the scripture.

So I read it.  And do you know what?  The Israelites were sentenced to forty years of desert wandering because they complained.  God forbid them from entering the land He promised because they weren’t content with how He was providing for them.  He banished them to a miserable world just outside the beautiful world He’d set aside for them because they grumbled at Him.  (Numbers 14:26-35)

Caleb & Joshua were the only exceptions, their exception being a “different spirit”.  God granted them access to the Promise Land because they had a heart of thanksgiving, a spirit of contentment when every one of their neighbors, friends and cohorts was bitter-hearted and negative-tongued.(Numbers 14: 24 & 30)

I read this and I was stunned.  Never before has the lingering voice of my father telling a five-year-old me to “be happy with what you have” been more loud, more clear or more convicting. Our God takes a content-spirit so seriously that its opposite evokes His wrath and punishment.  He actually withholds good things from those who complain or spit in the eye of His provision.  A content-spirit is so crucial to our walk with Him that it’s included as one of the Ten Commandments!  Right there with do not murder and do not commit adultery is do not covet but be content with what you have.

And how easy is it to disobey this command?  How simple to complain about everything.  The dishes, the weather, the job, the actions or un-actions of a spouse, the car, the house, the weather again.  Complaints roll so carelessly off the tongue.  If only statements coating the tongue like sugar.

At least my tongue.

But scripture says this “…be content with what you have, for He has said ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  (Hebrews 13: 5b) Nowhere in that scripture does it give by-laws to this instruction, stating we don’t have to be content with the difficult stuff, the annoying stuff, the unfortunate stuff. It doesn’t say “be content when things are nice and your husband just bought you ice cream”.  It just says “be content”, right now, in everything.

Now, this is not news to me necessarily.  I’ve always known contentment to be a worth-while trait. It doesn’t take much forethought to realize a content person is usually happier than a discontent person. But, that the Father of Lights, the Giver of all things, actually withholds bounty from those who make complaint their native language?  This is new, this is convicting, this is crucial.

What is even more terrifying to me is that my dissatisfied heart might be holding me back from doing the work the Lord has set before me to do.  Hebrews 13:21 says He will “equip [us] with everything good thing that [we] may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.” There is no higher calling then do that which is pleasing in the sight of Yahweh, to chase His dreams set before us.  This is why we are alive; it’s what makes life worth living, what gives our fumbling frames purpose.

And if I need to be given good things in order to do His will and a grumbling mouth invokes His wrath, causes Him to withhold that which is good from the people He loves, pleading with him for a “clean heart…a right spirit”, one that speaks of joy, a soul that is satisfied as with marrow (Psalms 63:5) first and foremost and always is of utmost importance.

“My God, do not give me back to myself.  Do not let me settle for anything but You.  In You I hide, escaping from my ruin.  Please do not give me back to myself.” –Rumi

Hymns of Lent: Go to Dark Gethsemane

I am so excited to share this guest post by my sister and brother-in-law. Be sure to check out Grant’s music and Beccy’s blog. Links are included below… 

Text: James Montgomery, 1825
Tune & Arrangement: Grant Adams, 2015
Click to listen:

The best way to learn something is to watch a master do it. This song follows Jesus in his final hours on earth and it invites us to watch how a master handles it when everything goes catastrophically wrong.

This song commands us:

To go there.

To watch Him.

To not to turn away…even when it gets ugly.

So that we might learn to do what He did:

to pray with our whole being,

to suffer for a cause,

 to lay down our lives

and to rise.

It’s tempting to skip over the less palatable parts of the story. “The wormwood and the gall and the pangs of his soul sustained” just doesn’t quite have the luster of pink plastic Easter eggs filled with Starburst Jelly Beans.  But this song reminds us that if we watch and follow Jesus as He is“beaten, bound, reviled [and] arraigned,” we will watch and follow Him as he rises.


The song in this post was performed and recorded by my brother-in-law Grant. In addition to managing a wind farm and keeping up with his almost 4 year old and almost 2 year old, Grant plays bass in a Minneapolis “rhythm and blues grass” band, Good Diction. He’s a songwriter known for crafting intricate and clever lyrics, which you can sample at his own music website (here).

Grant’s wife, my sister, Beccy, wrote a little about what this song is all about. Beccy blogs at about mental and relational health, social justice, realistic motherhood, and whatever else strikes at a moment when she has a moment to write about it.

Go to dark Gethsemane 
ye that feel the tempter’s power; 
your Redeemer’s conflict see, 
watch with him one bitter hour. 
Turn not from his griefs away; 
learn of Jesus Christ to pray. 

See him at the judgment hall, 
beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned; 
O the wormwood and the gall! 
O the pangs his soul sustained! 
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; 
learn of Christ to bear the cross. 

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; 
there, adoring at his feet, 
mark that miracle of time, 
God’s own sacrifice complete. 
“It is finished!” hear him cry; 
learn of Jesus Christ to die. 

Early hasten to the tomb 
where they laid his breathless clay; 
all is solitude and gloom. 
Who has taken him away? 
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes;
Savior, teach us so to rise.

Hymns of Lent: Alas and Did My Savior Bleed

Text: Isaac Watts
Tune and refrain: Rachel Henkle, 2014

Click to listen:

Here are some verses I’ve been thinking about tonight… 

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8

Today was a full day. We spent the first half of the day running errands. Then this afternoon the kids and I went to the park for the first time in 2015 and came home with muddy knees and sand in our shoes. Later, I had to console a hysterical 3-year-old when we tried to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, only to discover that the DVD somehow broke in half since the last time we watched. (Yes, it’s March and my daughter is still obsessed with Rudolph…) We had baths, bedtime stories and the usual stalling requests for drinks of water and extra songs. The kids are finally asleep, but I still have a kitchen sink full of dishes to wash and a kitchen floor full of Legos that didn’t get picked up before bedtime. 

Sometimes in the midst of this everyday life, the cross seems like a distant event that happened so long ago. But this week’s hymn puts me right at the scene. The blood, the anguish, the groaning of Jesus on the cross. I need to be reminded of my helpless, hopeless condition without the love of Christ. I need to be undone by the epic love story of rescue and redemption that I am a part of, and that did not come for free. Thank you, Jesus.

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.