The Canonisation of St John Henry Newman has had a profound impact on many, not least two diocesan clergy who have published their first books on the great man.

Fr Peter Conley, based at St Patrick’s in Coventry, and Rev Dr Guy Nicholls, founder and director of the JHN Institute of Liturgical Music and priest of Birmingham Oratory, have both spent many years working on their books.

For Fr Peter ‘Newman: A Human Harp of Many Chords’ is the “fruit of a decade’s research” which began before the Beatification of Newman in 2010.

“I recalled childhood memories of my Aunt, who was a parishioner at the Oratory, talking to me about Fr Stephen Dessain - an expert in Newman’s letters and diaires,” said Fr Peter. “I set out on a mammoth research project to go through all of the published ones. What a joy it was because it connected me with his humanity. He said that “a man’s life lies in his letters”.”

Fr Peter discovered that Newman wrote as he spoke.

“He used local Birmingham phrases, familiar proverbs and examples drawn from sport and popular culture, science and novels to communicate.

“I wanted to explore his humanity as this has, surprisingly, been neglected by writers until now. But, this is what helps us to relate to him.”

Fr Peter’s easy to read book is a fascinating introduction to Newman’s life and thought.

With interesting chapter headings including: ‘The Saint who loved Billiards’, ‘The Piano Tuner’s Voice’ and ‘The Faith Detective’ it is hoped that Fr Peter will write a sequel!

Newman: A Human Harp of Many Chords is available at St Paul’s bookshop, next to St Chad’s Cathedral, or online at Alive Publishing

Fr Guy’s first solo book ‘Unearthly Beauty: The Aesthetic of St John Henry Newman’ is also a labour of love and goes back to the Beatification.

He had founded and was running the Institute of Liturgical Music at the same time as studying for a doctorate in Newman.

When Fr Guy gained his doctorate in 2016 the opportunity came to work his thesis up into a book to mark the Canonisation, and as such the book was launched in October.

He even got the chance to personally hand a copy to HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, after the Canonisation ceremony!

“No one had looked at Newman’s view of beauty before,” said Fr Nicholls. “How beauty is a God-given quality, designed to draw us closer to God.

“A focus on art, architecture and music.

“I was interested in what he had said about those things, and what he did.

“Newman was said to be quite a remarkable person to listen to. His voice was said to be beautiful as well as Holy.

“His whole sense of beauty and religion had developed through his life. He was interested in the beauty in this world and the spiritual beauty of the next.”

Fr Guy has also examined the way Newman used the imagery of church buildings “to expand his palette for preaching”, his use of visual imagery as a whole and the importance of music and singing.

“I’m very pleased that people have a chance to find out about the things I have found out about Newman,” said Fr Guy.

“These are things worth knowing, worth telling people about. A different angle on St Newman.”

Unearthly Beauty: The Aesthetic of St John Henry Newman is available to buy from St Paul’s bookshop and online.

Fr Peter signs a copy of his book for Jane Deegan, Head of Parish Catechetics for the Archdiocese.

Fr Guy pictured in St Chad's Cathedral.