Illuminations

O for a Thousand Hymns to Sing!

by Anthony Esolen

When I tell people that the Christian churches possess thousands of excellent hymns, most of them neglected or forgotten, they narrow their eyes and seem skeptical. They might question my taste in lyrics, but I tell them I have been teaching poetry for more than thirty years, and what I read and teach spans three millennia and a good dozen languages and cultures.

I won't get into why so few of our contemporaries can write a competent hymn, much less a fine one. The reasons have to do with the obliteration of poetic genres and the absence of poetry from the lived experience . . .

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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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