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LITERARY CRITIC AND AUTHOR PUTS THE CASE FOR POETIC LANGUAGE IN CHURCH SERVICES image

LITERARY CRITIC AND AUTHOR PUTS THE CASE FOR POETIC LANGUAGE IN CHURCH SERVICES

14th January 2021

There is a strong case for the use of poetic language in Anglican church services.

That is the view of the literary critic and author Ysenda Maxtone Graham who has written widely for newspapers and magazines, notably as a features writer, book reviewer and columnist.

An enthusiast for the Book of Common Prayer, Ysenda recalls a comment by Kenneth Clark in his television series Civilisation.

‘He quoted the 11th century French patron of Gothic architecture, Abbot Suger, who said “We can only come to understand the absolute beauty which is God though the effect of precious and beautiful things on our senses,”’ says Ysenda.

‘So surely there is a case for poetic language in our church services.’

She added: ‘Making words into something so beautiful that, in addition to meaning, they convey Heaven and eternity as well. This is what I find true of the elevated – but never pompous – language of the Book of Common Prayer.’

Books by Ysenda, who was educated at The King's School, Canterbury and Girton College, Cambridge, include The Real Mrs Miniver: The Life of Jan Struther, shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award in 2002, as well as Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding Schools, 1939-1979.

Pictured is the Prayer Book enthusiast Ysenda Maxtone Graham, a literary critic and author.

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