Hymns of the Ages
Recently I challenged some friends of mine to name two forms of art—not works of art, but the very forms themselves, for which children are both necessary and of the essence. They couldn't think of any, and that's remarkable, since our children are supposed to be introduced to art in school, and since the highest praise that you can give a child now is to say he is "creative."
One of the forms I was thinking of is Shakespearean drama, in which boys played most of the women's parts, and sometimes played women in disguise as boys. I might have been stretching things there, since we can easily imagine the more natural theatrical convention, which is to have women play the parts of women. And except in those comic or tragicomic cases (Rosalind, Viola, Imogen) in which the disguise came into play, the sex of the actor was of no consequence; though there must have been some child-geniuses romping about in Shakespeare's time for him to write for them such parts as those of Juliet and Cleopatra and so forth.
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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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