Column: Illuminations 

Muddled Hymns

by Anthony Esolen

I often meet people who say that they mix in plenty of traditional hymns with the off-Broadway fare that fills up most contemporary hymnals, such as the Roman Catholic Worship series, now in its fourth edition. What most of them don't know is that the texts have been mangled. They are not wine, but watered-down apple juice, sometimes with a little oil slick for good measure.

I'd like to give a name to all the revisers of the old poems. It's inspired by the one man who seems to have been responsible for more than twenty years of bad texts in Worship: Mr. Muddlesome.

Why revise at all? Muddlesome uses as his excuse the . . .

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Anthony Esolen is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire. His many books include Sex in the Unreal City: The Demolition of the Western Mind, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a regular contributor to Chronicles, Crisis Magazine, The Claremont Review, Inside the Vatican Things, The Catholic Thing, and American Greatness. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy. He is a Roman Catholic and lives with his wife in New Hampshire. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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