Secular Right | Reality & Reason

May/10

27

Missing the Hymn

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An unbeliever can enjoy a good hymn as much as the next man, as many have testified.  (G.B. Shaw, D.H. Lawrence, Kingsley Amis, and E.O Wilson come to mind.  Not sure about Bert Russell; but the religious side of his family were some minimalist nonconformist sect IIRC, and so probably disapproved of hymns anyway.)

This week is Fleet Week in New York City.  I attended a Fleet Week function on Wednesday, watched the ships sailing up the Hudson, and hobnobbed with some naval and USMC personnel — most enjoyable and instructive.

At no point, however, did I get to hear the Navy Hymn, which is in my personal Top Five.  I cannot let this stand.

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9 comments

  • Florida resident · May 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Beautiful hymn indeed.
    Thank you, dear Bradlaugh !
    Your F.r.

  • Susan · May 27, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Gorgeous. As a secular conservative aesthete, I was wondering if “Ave Maria” was on your Top Five list. Renata Tebaldi’s rendition is ravishing.

  • John · May 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    So that’s the song I heard on that one Monty Python episode!

  • Cyg · May 27, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    A stirring arrangement of that hymn can easily bring a lump to this old atheist’s throat. Apparently, I am helpless to feel otherwise. Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky says people’s openness to new types of music tends to wane in their late 30’s. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5652676

    So, if it stirred you when you were young, it will stir you all your life. Thank goodness for iPods so I can secretly listen to gospel music even as I mock the irrationality that inspired it.

  • mike shupp · May 31, 2010 at 3:07 am

    That was very nice! From a cynical agnostic, Thank You!

  • reader · May 31, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    As a lovely anachronistic expression of artistic license, that hymn is the one used in the chapel scene in the recent film version of Moby Dick:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IctEOuPGddM

    The anachronism is that the hymn was written after Moby Dick was published.

  • JT · June 1, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Some of the very finest 20th century hymns (and other music appropriate for the religious service) were composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a non-believer.

  • Gene Berman · June 5, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Damn–only punched because I mistakenly thought it was a “missing hymen” being discussed and, thus, found the comments bewildering.

    Sorry.

  • Steve Bodio · June 9, 2010 at 9:34 am

    The last volume of the still underrappreciated evo- bio genius William Hamilton’s collected papers has both a eulogy by Dawkins and the– I, raised Papist, assume C of E– hymn (with music) sung at his funeral. I confess I rather like the juxtaposition.

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