Hymns Ascending by Anthony Esolen

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 a bishop, the son of a master of Trinity College, and the nephew of one of the greatest poets who ever lived. His name is Christopher Wordsworth, and the hymn I have before me is "See, the Lord Ascends in Triumph," written for the feast of the Ascension, and published in The Holy Year, or, Hymns for Sundays, Holidays, and Other Occasions Throughout the Year (1865), for the Anglican Church.

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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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