Rules for Rhymes
This once, dear readers, I'm going to do something I promise not to do again. I will look at one of my own hymns, written for Lent, from The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius Press, 2019).
I do so not to boast. It's just that I have become aware that people with good intentions are attempting to write genuine and orthodox hymns, rather than the staggeringly awful stuff that spreads its rot from contemporary hymnals into the brains of those congregants who like it or who put up with it, while others, irritated or embarrassed or bored, fall away.
How do you write a hymn? What is poetically permissible in our time? What special features must a hymn possess that a lyric poem in general need not possess?
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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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more on poetry from the online archives
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