Ride On! Ride On in Majesty!

Perhaps the most often-sung processional hymn on Palm Sunday, “Ride On! Ride On in Majesty!” was written in 1820 by Anglican cleric, poet, and scholar Henry Hart Milman (1791-1868) and first published in Reginald Heber’s Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Church Service of the Year (1827). The hymn references Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem prior to his Passion, as recorded in Matthew 21:1-11.

Writing for the Hymnology Archive of The Hymn Society in the US and Canada, editor Chris Fenner notes in his analysis of the text that:

“This hymn … is much less a narrative or paraphrase of the triumphal entry (Matt. 21, Mk. 11, Lk. 19, Jn. 12) than it is a forward-looking hymn pointing from the palms to the cross to [Jesus’] ascended position on the throne. The triumphal entry itself is a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 (‘Behold, your king is coming to you . . . humble and mounted on a donkey’). The recurring opening line is possibly an allusion to Psalm 45:4 (‘in thy majesty ride prosperously’).

“Some hymnological commentators connect this hymn with the idea of the great reversal in Philippians 2:5-12, where we find the Christ who humbled himself in a crucified death, later to be exalted, name above all names, to which every knee will bow. As Canadian hymn scholar Stanley Osborne observed, this hymn’s poetic strength is in its exploration of that duality:

“‘Objective, robust, confident, and stirring, it possesses that peculiar combination of tragedy and victory which draws the singer into the very centre of the drama. It is this which gives the hymn its power and its challenge.’”

In this arrangement for SATB voices and organ, Milman’s text is set to the 15th-century English ballad, “Deo Gratias” (aka The Agincourt Carol), with the refrain “Ride on in majesty!” following each verse.

SATB/organ score (4 pages, 8.5×11″) — $2.00 USD/copy

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