Today is the seventh Sunday in the Great Lent and is known as “Hosanna Sunday” or “Palm Sunday”.
The word “Hosanna” is Greek and is derived from the Hebrew word “Ho-sha-a-nan” which means “Save us”. It is the word that the Jewish multitude said in welcoming Our Lord Jesus Christ as King during His entry to Jerusalem.
The word “Palm” came from the way the multitude welcomed Our Lord by using palm and olive branches. From here came the naming of this Sunday as Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday in the Coptic Orthodox Church has a special rite. During the offering of the morning incense, a procession inside the church consisting of the Holy cross,candles, palm and olive branches, flowers, incense, and the icon of the entry of Our Lord to Jerusalem is made. Twelve readings from the Holy Gospel are read at different locations in the church. Before each reading, the father priest says theprayer of the Holy Gospel. All these do not occur during regular Sundays. But this rite is repeated during the two feasts of the Holy Cross which occur on 17 Tot (27 or28 September) and 10 Baramhat (March 19).
Also in the rite of Palm Sunday Liturgy instead of reading one Gospel, Four Gospels are read :
(Matthew 21: 1-17), (Mark 11:1-10), Luke (19:28-46), and John (12:12-19)
The father priest says the prayer of the Holy Gospel twice, one before the first Gospel and the second one before the fourth Gospel.
The Holy Liturgy then continues as usual but using the Hosanna Happy Tune till the receiving of the Holy Communion.
The other peculiar rite in the Holy Liturgy is the general funeral prayers after the Liturgy and taking away the white clothes. The reason for the General Funeral is that:
No offering of incense is made during the Pascha week because during this week the church concentrates only on Our Lord’s suffering.
If a person departs during the Pascha week, his coffin is entered into the church and one of the Pascha hours is prayed, no offering of incense is made, the father priest prays for him the absolution and then sprinkles on the coffin water from the General Funeral.