Anthony Esolen on the Theological Depth of a Neglected Wedding Hymn
One of the great pleasures I enjoy as a teacher of poetry is witnessing the astonishment of my students when I begin to reveal to them the subtle, manifold, and sometimes maddeningly complex craftsmanship the artists of the ancient world, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance employed. It is a pleasure mingled with a touch of scorn, I confess, because once one has beheld it, most of the art of our time, and especially what is consciously modern, seems pretty jejune—seems like a dry crust of white bread in place of a banquet.
Yet that lends us Christians a tremendous opportunity, both to recover the glories of our heritage and to apply their lessons to the world that God has sent us to evangelize. Let me take for example Edmund Spenser's wedding hymn, the Epithalamion.
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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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