The Corner

Herb’s Hymn

Herman Cain did not sing “Amazing Grace” at the National Press Club presser, a mighty host of readers are telling me. He sang “He Looked Beyond My Faults,” a different hymn.

Okay, but:

1. I don’t even know that I was writing about the National Press Club event. I was quoting, and linked to, a Cindy Adams column in which neither of the words “press” nor “club” appears. (“National” appears, but not in this context.)

2. Cindy reports that: “This man in rimless glasses, expensive tie, custom blue suit in the Plaza’s Palm Court then sang ‘Amazing Grace’ to me.” In the video clip of the NPC event, Cindy is nowhere to be seen, and Herm’s singing to the whole room. That’s not a context in which you’d write “sang … to me.” Possibly this was some private event afterwards; Cindy doesn’t say.

3. The first words of “He Looked Beyond My Faults” are “‘Amazing Grace’ shall always be my song of praise.” It’s a hymn about the hymn “Amazing Grace.” Even if Cindy was reporting the NPC bash, this would be a highly forgivable error for her, a nice Jewish girl, to make.

In fact — and of course I don’t mean to be unkind to anyone (moi?) — “He Looked Beyond My Faults” is a feeble knock-off of “Amazing Grace.” They didn’t even think up a new tune: at any rate, Herb sings it to the tune of “The Londonderry Air.” (Which, if YouTube is anything to go by, some large proportion of the population believe is actually called “The London Derrière” — a totally different thing.)

Look, I’ve got nothing against “Amazing Grace.” It’s a nice hymn. I just hate to see that great glorious treasury of other English-language hymns gathering dust when so many pious Americans, asked for a hymn, offer “Amazing Grace” (or in this case a close knock-off thereof) with such dreary predictability. Doesn’t anyone at least know Crimond?

To those readers who mainly wanted to make the point that some large majority of the nation’s journalists probably think there only is one hymn: I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s so.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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