Illuminations

Hymns Ascending

by Anthony Esolen

Who in our time writes hymns? If I may judge from my church, the Roman Catholic, it's a small cadre of usually liberal priests, former priests, nuns, and former nuns. Only one or two of these are both orthodox and any good at writing poetry. I'm not asking for greatness, but solid competence; not filet mignon, but Irish stew. Then there are all the meals that are both tasteless and laced with arsenic—but that is another article.

So it seems as if I enter a different world when I read a hymn-poem by a bishop, of all strange creatures, who was also an author of a variety of books, a biblical archaeologist, the brother of . . .

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Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books), 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 Press, 2019). He has also translated Dante's Divine Comedy (Random House). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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