Select Page

The Poem:



The plod of a donkey’s foot clip-clops
up dusty cobbled streets, always up.
Past the withering fig tree in the court,
past the well. Past the flutter and protest
of pigeons and barking dogs, the slow ascent
progresses. And all the laughter of playful
children, the arguing clanging of pots,
and sweeping of doorways, the calling out
of windows, and the cacophony of the city
yields to the crescendo of the arriving parade.
“Hosanna! Blessed is the King!” they cry out,
as word of the event runs swiftly ahead.
They strip lower branches from the palms
to line the way, and hoist their children,
and wave their arms, and call out their
ancient refrains and praises. But what king
rides a donkey? What king wears a peasant’s
clothes? Has dusty feet? Surely, never has
an approach and an arrival promised
and delivered such a wild irony as this.

— Warren Howell, April 5, 2020

This poem was inspired by the pathos in the organ prelude by Dan Locklair on the Palm Sunday hymn tune associated with “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.”  I appreciate how the climactic tones of expectation and irony and triumph and tragedy are conveyed in this performance by Maureen in her 2008 organ recital at St. John’s.


The Prelude:


“Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel…” — No. 1, from “St. John’s Suite  (Four Chorale Preludes for Organ),” by Dan Locklair, performed by Maureen Howell, organist.

St. John’s Suite was commissioned by St. John’s Baptist Church (Charlotte, NC) in celebration of the installation of the church’s new Létourneau pipe organ. In addition to “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel…,” the suite features also:

  • 2. “…lovest thou me more than these?” (on “Jesus Calls Us” – Galilee)
  • 3. “…the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (on “Ah, Holy Jesus” – Herzliebster Jesu)
  • 4. “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (on “Ye Sons and Daughters Let Us Sing” – O Filii et Filiae)

Surely, never has
an approach and an arrival promised
and delivered such a wild irony as this.