Still louder ever rose the crowd’s
Hosanna in the highest!
‘O King,’ thought I, ‘I know not why
In all this joy thou sighest.’
— The Merchants’ Carol
Where thy victorious feet, Great God, should tread,
In honor this green tapestry is spread;
And as all future things are past to thee,
The triumph here precedes the victory.
— Giambattista Marino, “Palm Sunday”
An anthem for Palm Sunday, “Ride on! ride on in majesty,” sung by the choir of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Bainbridge Island, WA, under the direction of Paul Roy, with the late Darden Burns on piano. Lyrics by Henry Hart Milman, music by Mark Shepperd. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is from “Day of Triumph” (1954) a feature film produced by my father, James K. Friedrich. The palm branches are from Taryn Elliott via Pexels. My footage of the Seattle viaduct, shot the day before its demolition began, imagines Jesus’ entry into our own cities, while the empty road in Montana recalls the spiritual, “Jesus walked that lonesome valley.” The one who rode among the cheering crowds must go alone to the cross. The sun directs its deathly gaze through the smoke of a forest fire in the Bitterroot Mountains. The irony of Palm Sunday’s “triumph” is seen in the video’s final image of Christ, now carrying the cross through a different kind of crowd (Lippo Memmi, Santa Maria Assunta, San Gimignano, Tuscany, c. 1340).
Isn’t it always Palm Sunday? Isn’t our Lord always entering a hostile “city” and into a hostile environment? As our country dis-intergrates, as Western Civilization fades away, and wickedness steps out of the eternal shadows, we can take comfort in the eternal hope of Palm Sunday and our Lord’s eternal church.