Dizzy Dean… and the Horns of Elfland

No, this is not the title of a really awful movie.

What I want to do here is to recover, if only in a glimpse, something of value that has been lost. By “lost” I mean swamped, engulfed, devoured by reality TV, rap music, a president of the United States saying “It depends on what is is” for the whole world to hear, pride parades, incredibly violent video games, ridiculous banalities like “happy holiday” and “the science is settled,” executive orders issued by high officials who couldn’t have been elected dog-catcher, not so long ago–in short, a whole country and its way of life being choked to death by wicked idiots.

Among the countless gifts bestowed on us by God, to help us keep our sanity and to remember that He really is there, He has not forgotten us, are the arts. Sometimes all it takes is a song or a poem or a painting to remind us that yes, there is something better: and there will be something better yet.

Here are two examples which, at least to me, seem to go together.

First, a few lines from Lord Tennyson’s poem, “The Splendour Falls.”

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear

And thinner, clearer, farther going!

O sweet and far from cliff and scar

The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!

But what do the horns of Elfland sound like? I think it depends on who is listening. To me, they sound (at least sometimes!) like this:


That, boys and girls, is Dizzy Dean singing The Wabash Cannonball. That is the sound of something better. It is the horns of Elfland faintly blowing. We are sinners, but God has wired us so that we long for something better. And when God finishes His work, we’ll have it.

In the meantime, in addition to His word and to His promises, in addition to the beauties of the work of His hands, which He has placed so that we see it all around us: in addition to all that, we have our own little creations among the arts–

All to keep us going until the Lord finishes His work.

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