Waving a white handkerchief and shouting “hosanna” may not be something many people expect to do at a temple dedication. But when we take the time to understand the deep historic and religious significance behind it, it becomes less unusual and more sacred.

What is the Hosanna Shout?

Though you may have heard of this unique Latter-day Saint ritual, it is not often discussed or explained. During the October 2000 general conference, as Church members prepared to dedicate the newly completed Conference Center, however, President Hinckley described it the following way:

“Now, my brothers and sisters, in a moment I shall offer the dedicatory prayer, in which all of you are invited to join. Immediately at the close of the dedicatory prayer, we invite each one of you who may wish to participate to stand and join with us in the Hosanna Shout. This sacred salute to the Father and the Son is given at the dedication of each of the temples. It has also been given on a few occasions of historic importance, such as the laying of the capstone on the Salt Lake Temple and the celebration of the centennial of the Church in the 1930 general conference.

“We feel it is appropriate to give the shout here, as we dedicate this great building, the likes of which we may never undertake again. Any mention of this by the media should recognize that for us this is a very sacred and personal thing. We request that it be treated with deference and respect.

“I will now demonstrate the shout. Each one takes a clean white handkerchief, holding it by one corner, and waves it while saying in unison, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb,” repeated three times, followed by “Amen, Amen, and Amen.”

Where does it come from?

For many Latter-day Saints, the most commonly talked about origin of the Hosanna Shout is from Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when the people greeted Him with shouts of hosanna and waved palm branches and acknowledged him as the Messiah.

However, shouting hosanna can be traced even further back, to the Hebrew Feast of the Tabernacles. This feast, which began and ended on a Sabbath day, involved sleeping in temporary huts, erected in remembrance of the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. It also celebrated the gathering of nations and deliverance they received at the Lord’s hand. As part of the festivities, on the seventh day, which was sometimes called “the Great Hosanna,” a special meeting was held and shouts of hosanna were given while palm branches were waved. But why use the word “hosanna”?

Read the full article at LDS Living.