Illuminations

Godward Bound

by Anthony Esolen

Here is some good advice from the editors of the Service Book and Hymnal of the Lutheran Church in America (1958):

The hymns should be devotional rather than didactic or homiletical, and their direction Godward, not manward; the hymnal must be ecumenical in character, expressing the continuity and catholicity of the life of the Church; the final criterion is not Lutheran authorship, but agreement with the teachings of the Word of God; the hymnal must have the highest standards of literary excellence, and each hymn, being an act of worship, should be exalted in language, noble in thought and reverent in feeling.

I could now fill a large book with flagrant violations of these standards, across all . . .

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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 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.


more on music from the online archives

33.3—May/June 2020

Consolation in Death

Bach's Cantata BWV 106, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbesteZeit (God's time is the very best time) by Ken Myers

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