IT IS A FORM of high-church Popery that is supposed to set mainline Protestant teeth on edge. It shouldn't. 

Words wear out after a while, especially religious words. We've said them so many times. We've listened to them so often. They are like voices we know so well we no longer hear them. 

When a prayer or a psalm or a passage from the Gospels is chanted, we hear the words again. We hear them in a new way. We remember that they are not only meaning but music and mystery. The chanting italicizes them. The prose becomes poetry. The prosaic becomes powerful. 

Of course chanting wears out after a while too.  

-Originally published in Whistling in the Dark

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