Come Unto Me
by Anthony Esolen
I have experienced two kinds of "youth" music at Christian services. One is like listening to a song that was popular in 1968 and that you have heard five hundred times too often, so that the melody is what some people shrewdly call an "earworm," a tune that wriggles its way from ear to brain and lodges there for a day or two, till you dislodge it by swimming underwater and banging the side of your head afterwards till the wax loosens and the water and the music come out.
The other hasn't so much charm as that. Its lyrics don't rise to the literacy of Ride, Captain, ride, upon your mystery ship, or 'Enery the Eighth I am I am. It is trans-grammatical. You don't have lyrics but word flotsam, sometimes projected onto the wall, and loud wailing, whoa, yea, and amplifiers that keep you from noticing that there is no melody.
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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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