Illuminations

What Was Done Before

by Anthony Esolen

For several years I've been delighted to write in this column about the beauty, the liturgical propriety, the scriptural profundity, and the sheer might of the great hymns of the Church. Yet once in a while someone asks me whether I think that the only good art is the old. Why can't we have good things now? Have people become incapable of writing hymns, just because they were born too late?

I don't believe so. What was done before can be done again.

That said, I think we are apt to underestimate how much of the cultural foundation has crumbled away, and therefore how much we must painstakingly repair, just to put a dry . . .

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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.


more on music from the online archives

33.3—May/June 2020

Consolation in Death

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