Music is the most effective delivery system for feelings—love, joy, sadness, glory. The early Church Fathers knew that music also has power over minds, and they used that power to maximum effect, writing hymns through which the early Christians would learn, retain, and spread the Gospel message. In How the Choir Converted the World, best-selling author Mike Aquilina demonstrates how the earliest Christians used music to transform a world that desperately needed transforming. As Aquilina suggests, “If we did it once, we can do it again.”


About the author

Mike Aquilina is the author or co-author of over forty books, including the best-selling The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers; The Mass of the Early Christians; and Angels of God: The Bible, the Church, and the Heavenly Hosts. His reviews, essays, and journalism have appeared in First Things, Touchstone, National Catholic Register, and elsewhere. Aquilina is the Executive Vice President of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and along with Dr. Scott Hahn has hosted several popular television series on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). He and his wife Terri live in the Pittsburgh area with their six children.




“This is the perfect gift for your parish music director—and the whole choir—and everyone who should be singing in the congregation. When we sing, we pray, and we evangelize too. That’s one way the early Christians changed the world.”

—Scott Hahn, Professor of Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville and best-selling author of The Creed


“Aquilina has all the qualities that a good guide should possess: he knows the terrain (taking the reader through Scripture, antiquity, and the Church Fathers), he has a discerning eye (spotting the place of music in the Church), and is an engaging wit (the reader feels like he has been brought to stand outside the Jerusalem Temple, or in Ephrem’s choir, or beside Ambrose in the great cathedral at Milan). This book considers an important but overlooked element of theologia prima, namely, how the Church performs her theology in what is actually sung doctrine. Easily accessible, fascinating, and inspiring to believers today.”

—David Fagerberg, Professor of Liturgical Studies at Notre Dame University and author of On Liturgical Asceticism


“From apostolic times, hymns to Jesus have instilled the truth of who he is and professed what he has marvelously done on our behalf. Mike Aquilina has written a splendid book defending why hymns and the singing of hymns resides within the very heart of Christian theology and worship. All who read this book will lift up, with greater fervor and deeper adoration, their hearts, minds, and voices in praise to Jesus.”

—Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM, Cap. Author of Jesus: Essays in Christology


“Whether you’re an enthusiastic choir member or a semi-silent pew sitter, you will find Mike Aquilina’s How the Choir Converted the World edifying, informative, and highly enjoyable. Tracing music’s role in the rise of early Christianity, Aquilina shows how the Church turned to godly hymns in response to the music of immoral pagan rites, thereby winning the battle for people’s minds and hearts. The lesson is clear: beauty saved the world once and beauty can save it again from a perverse and violent culture. This wise and engaging book presents us with a timely challenge to do just that.”

—Russell Shaw, Author of Catholics in America


“We all love to sing—to raise our voice in song—even if not always in tune. Mike Aquilina walks us through centuries of faith, teaching, doctrine, and spirituality, explaining as we go the significance of music, the value of human song, and the unique power of voices joined in choir.”

—Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. and author of To the Martyrs


“Using the Bible, the Church Fathers, and authoritative musicological scholarship, Mike Aquilina has fashioned a captivating narrative about the place of music in the Early Church. He has extracted from all these sources a truth that has not been emphasized enough: the Church evangelized through music. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said that the Church is known through Her saints and through Her art, and Aquilina concurs with this as he concludes his book with a plea for a return to beauty in the Church through the medium of beautiful song. For me this book was a page-turner and very reader-friendly; I plan to give it as a gift to several of my musical friends!”

—Susan Treacy, Professor of Music at Ave Maria University and author of A Plain and Easy Introduction to Gregorian Chant


“In his typical scintillating prose, Mike Aquilina shows how music changed (and continues to change) the world. This book opened my eyes and my ears to the beauty and tradition of Catholic song. Nobody makes the early Church more relevant to today’s Catholic than Aquilina . . . nobody.”

—Matthew Leonard, Speaker, author, podcaster, and Vice President and Executive Producer at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

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How the Choir Converted the World: Through Hymns, With Hymns, and In Hymns