Illuminations

A Whole Poem

Anthony Esolen

Whenever I recommend the poetry of Christian hymns, and in doing so cast a cold eye on the incompetence and sloppy sentimentality of much of what we sing in our churches today, someone will accuse me of being an "elitist," as if that were a fit response to end all discussion. I typically reply in three ways.

First, I say that my friend has evaded the issue. If he wants to defend the art of a Marty Haugen or David Haas, let him do so, on the same grounds whereby we judge the worth of any poem, sacred or no. Then I remind him that all human . . .

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Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books), Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius Press, 2019). He has also translated Dante's Divine Comedy (Random House). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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