ILLUMINATIONS: Anthony Esolen on Christian Hymns
Songs of Thankfulness & Praise
When reciting the Nicene Creed, Roman Catholics are supposed to bow in solemn adoration when they come to the following words: Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria virgine, et homo factus est. The Incarnation is the heart of the Christian faith: a work of breathtaking love, not simply that God would make man in his image, but that he would descend to pitch his tent among us. Christ is the eternal Word of God, but his moments will be measured out by a beating heart, and his boundless wisdom will dwell within our small swaddling of flesh.
Yet this manhood, once assumed, is not discarded. It is made sublime. To quote Milton:
Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt
With thee thy manhood also to this throne:
Here shalt thou sit incarnate, here shalt reign
Both God and Man, Son both of God and man,
Anointed universal King.
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Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including 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). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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