Muddled Hymns by Anthony Esolen

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.

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Anthony Esolen is the author of over thirty 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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