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Ralph Vaughn Williams, an Ambivalent Hymnist

A Vaughan Williams Elegy: “Cheerful agnosticism”? This review of a new book–Vaughan Williams: Composer, Patriot, Radical by Keith Alldritt (Robert Hale Ltd., 2016)–on the English composer (“For All the Saints;” editor of The English Hymnalraises and considers the question of how Vaughn Williams, a declared agnostic, should have been able all through his life, to set to music words in the accepted terms of Christian revelation as if they meant to him what they must have meant to George Herbert or to Bunyan.  Students can consider the ambiguities of drawing near to God (James 4:8) and who are the seekers among us today.

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