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Falling in love with the language of hymns

Falling in love with the language of hymns

Juan Vidal wrote a feature article for NPR, “Falling In Love With Language — Through The Power Of Hymns”. An excerpt:

The thing about a beautifully wrought hymn, that age-old lyric poem, is that there is nothing like it — and it would be wrong to say the best ones don’t go at the heart head-on. Again, no matter where you stand on heaven and hell, there is power in a hymn. And if we’re blessed enough to be able to sit quietly with one, we might see that hymns contain everything: death, laughter, loss. They tell a story about our relationship to the divine. A brute truth: No other form of expression can so richly translate the depth and breadth of authentic religious experience like a well-conceived song of praise.

While much has been written about Shakespeare and how religious he may or may not have been, he understood the power of hymns — and there’s no denying the explicit biblical allusions in his work…

It would do us good to revisit some of the poetry of a time so different than our own. These old texts merit our attention; for me they carry the same resonance as Shakespeare. Not only are they rich in history, they also draw us to appreciate the wonder of words. Instead of viewing the vocabulary as archaic, I’ve come to see hymns as the language of prayer, and as a way of connecting with those that have come before me.


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