The Truth is bigger than we are, and if it comes for us, our whole lives might break open."It falls from heaven", writes Tom Hiney. "It can fall at four in the morning when you are cold with insomnia, and it can refuse to fall when advertised. It has a life of its own." God calls, whether we are ready or not.
This book tells the stories of lives laid bare by love, stories that, over the years, gradually spurred acclaimed English biographer Tom Hiney up the ragged mountain of his own conversion from atheism to Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism."These stories", he says, "are about people turning to God in horrible moments, with faltering human hearts like mine, and finding Him to be faithful."
Written in lean, vigorous prose, the book is a visceral study of faith, in which the holiness of other men and women leads the writer to realize that, despite everything, anything is possible with God, even joy.
A medieval king awaiting a Viking invasion (King Alfred), a Jesuit evangelist at the court of Akbar (Father Monserrate), a West African prince in 1890s Indiana (Samuel Morris), and a composer in Communist Poland (Henryk Górecki), as well as a trapped Arctic whaling vessel (the Diana), a lost explorer (David Livingstone), a disobedient general (Charles Gordon), and an aging war hero (the author's own father)—all these become unlikely companions in Hiney's messy, fumbling journey to Christ.
The Song of Ascents is about coming to faith through stories, including the humanly incredible storytelling of the Church's unique, heavenly, and inevitable destiny.
"Tom Hiney understands that each of our lives is a story. In this cogent and courageously written book, we see how the lives of others interweaves with our own life, inviting us to see our own life story in the light of Christ and to see history as His Story. This is storytelling and truth-seeking at its best."
— Joseph Pearce, Author, Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief
"Song of Ascents is one of those deeply satisfying books that looks at different people in various times and places and sees, within seemingly disparate narratives, the hand of God. Tom Hiney is an absorbing and engaging writer, and by the end of the book the reader feels not only the frisson of coming closer to the divine, but also the sense of having made a new friend."
— Sally Read, Poet and Author, Night's Bright Darkness: A Modern Conversion Story
"The best thing about this book is how uncategorizable it is. Within the first few pages we are transported from the Arctic to Africa and across two centuries. With his poetic prose, Tom Hiney weaves in his own adventure story with an unlikely cast of characters from history, as he describes his unlikely destination: Rome."
— Dale Ahlquist, President, Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton
"Conversion is painful. With a striking prose, Hiney lays bare this process of the heart of stone becoming the heart of flesh. Song of Ascents takes the reader out of this nihilistic world of ours and reveals the allure of love and sacrifice. These stories of conversion remind us that the pain will lead to a life renewed in truth, goodness, and beauty."
— Derya Little, Author, From Islam to Christ: One Woman's Path through the Riddles of God
"With deep insights and the masterful pen of an accomplished biographer, Tom Hiney has laid bare the hearts, minds, and experiences of dramatic conversions from a wide range of people and cultures. A delightful and heart-pulsing read."
— Steve Ray, Author, Crossing the Tiber