Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mencken on music
From Michael Lawrence
A few days ago, as a belated birthday treat to myself and in celebration of the end of a long work cycle, I visited Bookhaven, Philadelphia’s finest vault of used books. This is one of those places in which there is always something to be found, even if it isn’t what was originally sought. On this particular day I had it in my mind to see if they had a copy of Hymns Ancient and Modern, one of three hymnals, all of which are Anglican, which are worth having.

Perhaps the most surprising essay in the whole collection is the one on Catholic Church music, in which Mencken lauds the efforts of Pope Pius X to resurrect chant and polyphony and shelve the operatic caterwauling that had been fashionable at that time. It’s not the kind of story one would expect to come from an agnostic.

No comments:

Post a comment

Leave comment