The Corner

A Musical Sermonette

In the course of my “Oslo Journal,” I have sneaked in a little music criticism here and there. There have been opportunities. In today’s installment, I mention that Julia Ormond, the actress, sang “Amazing Grace.” This was at the end of her remarks on sex trafficking and other things. “Amazing Grace” is one of our most beautiful and affecting songs, of course. It is also one of our most abused. People want to pour emotion into it. They want to “personalize” it and “individualize” it. They gild the lily, warp the song out of recognition. Ormond did not, thankfully. (She had other problems.) The thing about songs that contain their power within the notes and words: You don’t really have to do anything to them. You don’t have to “sell” them. You just have to present them purely and honestly. The songs themselves will do the work for you.

Okay, here endeth the criticism.


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