Monday, February 13, 2017

How the Choir Converted the World (Emmaus Road Publishing)

Music is an essential part of every society. It's art. It's a distraction. It elicits emotions. It's how people express themselves. It's how history is recorded and stories are remembered. Music is also a vital part of religion. In his latest book, How the Choir Converted the World, Mike Aquilina tells us how effectively the earliest Christians used music.

The book begins by taking us back to the Old Testament. The Babylonian Exile has ended. The Temple has been rebuilt. The people have been purified. And then, we have music! Aquilina then takes us even further back and shows us who was Biblically credited with creating the first instruments (Jubal). We also see references to Miriam's song, the walls of Jericho, and the many Psalms of David. The second chapter details music as it was used with pagan sacrifice. Aquilina even goes so far as to compare ancient Roman culture with our culture and how the music and entertainment then was just as abhorrent as what passes today for music in popular culture.

The book then walks us through important figures and moments Church music history. It begins by discussing music in the times of Apostles, which leads to Ephrem, Ambrose, and Augustine. The book ends with a chapter dedicated to the Te Deum and a closing chapter about what we need to make music more central to our Church again. Aquilina firmly believes that if we utilized music the way the early Church did, then we could change the world for the better.

As with all of Mike Aquilina's books I have read, he shows a great deal of research and scholarship to argue his case effectively. I really like that he continues to focus heavily on the early Church, as it is sadly a forgotten time that more Christians could benefit from learning about. As someone who doesn't have a musical bone in his body and therefore doesn't appreciate music as much as I should, I walked away from this book a lot wiser and more informed. I normally attend an early enough Mass during the week, specifically because there is no singing. However, having learned about both the history and significance of music in the early days of the Church, I realize now that I should not avoid music, merely because I lack the ability to beautifully make it, but I should seek it out and let it transform my life. In doing so, hopefully, I can make a little difference, and slowly perhaps we can transform and convert the world.

This book was provided to me for free by Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for an honest review.