Home History of Hymns: "Filled with Excitement"

History of Hymns: "Filled with Excitement"

"Filled with Excitement" ("Mantos y Palmas")
Rubén Ruíz Avila; trans. Gertrude C. Suppe
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 279

Filled with excitement, all the happy throng
spread cloaks and branches on the city streets.
There in the distance they began to see,
riding on a donkey comes the Son of God.
From every corner a thousand voices sing
praises to him who comes in the name of God.
With one great shout of acclamation loud
triumphant song breaks forth:
“Hosanna to the King!”*

One of the great rituals of the church throughout the ages is the Palm Sunday processional, with its scriptural basis in Matthew 21:8-9 and parallel passages in each of the other three Gospels.

Throughout the church’s history, songs and anthems have been composed to accompany this festive occasion. Many congregations sing “All glory, laud, and honor” (UM Hymnal, No. 280) with its textual roots in the 8th or 9th century. The stately 17th-century tune arranged by a 19th-century British composer conveys a majestic, dignified processional appropriate for an English cathedral.

“Mantos y palmas” (Mantles and palms) takes on the character of its Mexican roots, a mariachi feel that suggests a dance-like fiesta rather than a stately entrance. The composer Rubén Ruíz (b. 1945) was born in Cuautla, Morelos, Mexico. His father was a Methodist bishop in Mexico. Mr. Ruíz received his education at Insituto Mexicano Madero where he also served as choir director.

The United Methodist Hymnal editor Carlton Young notes: “Two stanzas and the refrain were composed ca. 1972. Variants of the second stanza and other stanzas have appeared since its publication in Canciones de Fe y Compromiso (Songs of Faith and Promise), 1978, arranged by Alvin Schutmaat.”

In correspondence with Dr. Young, Mr. Ruíz noted that he composed the hymn for the choir in a United Methodist congregation in Covington, Va., where he was a member for some time.

The hymn, perhaps the composer’s only composition, received acclaim at the Festival Internacional de Coros Evengélicos (International Festival of Evangelical Choirs), held in 1980 at Gante Methodist Church, one of the largest Methodist churches in downtown Mexico City.

The hymn has a dramatic quality. Stanza one begins with a historical account of the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. At the refrain, “mil voces” (a thousand voices) join the procession and in a “gran exclamación” sing in “con voz triumphal” (with a triumphal voice): “¡Hosanna al Rey!” (“Hosanna to the King”).

The second stanza transports us to the present where we relive the experience. A third stanza, added by popular tradition, takes us into the future where we will all process before the throne of God. A singing translation follows:

As in that entrance to Jerusalem,
we’ll join together singing to our Lord.
When Christ returns in glory form on high,
he’ll take us then to our eternal home.**

Capable translators are essential in bringing hymns in other languages to English-speaking congregants.

Gertrude Suppe (1911-2007), a native of Los Angeles, began her study of Spanish in 1976, devoting much of her life to Spanish hymns from that point on. She became a collector of Spanish-language hymnals and resources and prepared a translation in 1979 for the United Methodist Celebremos project.

The hymn first appeared in Supplement to the Book of Hymns (1982) and then in Celebremos: Segunda Parte (1983) as “Mantles and branches.” Mrs. Suppe made alterations for The United Methodist Hymnal (1989) to be more faithful to the original Spanish. She participated in the translation of four hymns from the Spanish for the current UM Hymnal.

*© 1972, 1979, 1989 The United Methodist Publishing House (Administered by The Copyright Company, Nashville, TN). All rights reserved. Used by permission.

**Trans. by C. Michael Hawn © 1999 Choristers Guild. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Dr. Hawn is professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology, SMU.