Words of Praise

When talking to someone, if you want to tell them you appreciate something about them, you use certain specific words, like “you look lovely” or “you are very strong” etc. Talking to God is no different, except that, because of the history of God’s relationship with His people, there are some words which you might use to praise God but no-one else. Such are Hallelujah, hosanna, and certain phrases such as “Glory be to God”, “my soul Magnifies the Lord”, “I go to Adoration…”, “King of kings”, etc.  Some of these have meanings which are not generally known, others are obvious expansions of their ordinary meanings in day to day life.  Here are a few of the most used ones.

Hallelujah or Alleluia

Hallelujah (also written Alleluia) is one of the most often heard words of praise, but what does it mean?  It is a Hebrew expression and is made up actually of two words: Hallelu - which means “let us praise” and Jah which is one of the names for God.  So it means “let us praise the Lord”.


Hosanna, is a Greek word which is actually a transliteration - or a representation in Greek (and now English, French and some other languages) of a sound which was made by people speaking Hebrew.  That word would sound something like “Hoshanna”.  It is made up of two words.  “Yasha” which means “To save or deliver” and “anna” which means “please” or “if it pleases you”.  So the word Hosanna, used several times in the New Testament, means “please save us” and is used as a word of praise by Christians because it implies that God wants to, and can and does save us if we want to be saved by Him. It is most appropriate to be used when talking about Jesus, such as when he rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, because the name ‘Jesus’ (Yeshua) means “God saves” - so Jesus is the incarnation of God’s response to this prayer:  God’s physical presence among us.  (Incidentally, the meaning of ‘Immanuel’, which describes Jesus in the Old Testament  (Isaiah 7:14) is “God with us”.)

Ejaculations or Exclamations of Praise

Other words of praise are such as “All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine”, said in the beginning of a time of Adoration in the Catholic Church, before the Blessed Sacrament, where the Blessed Sacrament who is Jesus himself, is exposed in a monstrance so that we can see the marvel that is the Body and Blood of Jesus in the form of the Host, and adore Him and pray (or talk) to Him.  Several traditional prayers are used at the beginning and end of this time of Adoration.

“Hallowed be thy name” is the first desire we express to God when we say the Lord’s Prayer, which was given to us by Jesus.  It answers the first commandment: “I am Yahweh your God” (Exodus 20:2).  The word “Hallowed” means regarded as holy, revered.  So this sentence means:  “May your Name be revered”.

“Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord”, is repeated from Psalm 118 verse 26, and from the Gospel of Matthew 23:39.  The One who comes in the Name of the Lord is Jesus. 

“Give thanks to God for He is Good, His faithful love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34) which king David said when the ark of the Covenant was brought to the high place at Gibeon and Psalm 100 “For Yahweh is good, his faithful love is everlasting, his constancy from age to age.”

“Bless the Lord, O my soul” comes from Psalms 103 and 104 and songs have been written based on this phrase.

 “Holy Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty!  Heaven and earth are full of your glory.  Hosanna in the Highest!” which comes in part from the book of Revelation (4:8 ) and from Isaiah 6:3 (“Holy Holy Holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory”) as well as from the acclamation that the people of Jerusalem made to Jesus when he came in riding on a donkey - a moment in His life that we celebrate on Palm Sunday.

Doxology (Liturgical Hymn of Praise)

The “Glory Be” is a prayer that is used during many prayers including during the Liturgy of the Hours (for example LaudsVespers), during the Rosary, and during Holy Mass.  It is known as a minor or lesser Doxology because it is short.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

As it was in the beginning,

Is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen”

The Gloria in Excelsis Deo (or Glory to the Highest Heaven) is a major Doxology of the Catholic Church, said or sung by the whole congregation, often in latin.  It can be heard in the most famous Masses composed by great composers such as Mozart, Saint Saens and others.  It is a part of solemn Masses at high feast days, such as Easter and Christmas, among others.  It is major because it is much longer than the lesser Doxology.  It is a great hymn of praise dating back to the first century in the Greek Church.

The Sanctus, called also the Tersanctus or Holy, Holy, Holy is also said or sung during Mass.  It is taken from a Jewish prayer of praise, which itself is from Isaiah 6:3, which refers to the author of the verse’s vision of God surrounded by Seraphs shouting “Holy, Holy, holy is Yahweh Sabaoth.  His glory fills the whole earth”.   In Greek, it’s title is the ‘epinikios hymnos’, which means the hymn of victory. The prayer of praise: 

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts,

Heaven and Earth are full of your Glory,

Hosanna in the Highest,

Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

In Latin: 

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, 

Dominus Deus Sabaoth

Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua

Hosanna in excelsis

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini

Hosanna in excelsis.

Praise the Lord with Hozana

Hozana has many offerings to help you to pray and praise God.  Learn how the Holy Spirit has touched the people of God and seek His presence with RUAH – Breathe through me Holy Spirit.  Pray with the Fathers of the Church with The words of the Fathers of the Church.