Aug 232012
 

Every year I make a list of topics to study with the kids, and every year I include hymn study. And every year I fail to get it done.

That doesn’t mean that my children do not know any hymns. They actually know many, many hymns. In fact, many more than I did as a child. Almost seven years ago, we left the mega-church that we had been members of for 5 years. (Actually my husband had been a member his entire life until he got married and moved away. Then we moved back and joined the same church.) One of the things that we were looking for in a new church was one that used hymns in worship. It didn’t have to be only hymns, but we were looking for a more traditional worship style. The Lord did lead us to a church that, among other things we were looking for, used hymns for congregational singing. This long digression can be summed up with, my children know hymns, but we have failed to learn about the hymns and hymn writers.

One of the reasons I think I’ve failed at implementing hymn study is that I tend to make it too complicated. This year I received a great resource that is a super simple way to learn more about hymns. The book is Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers by Douglas Bond. The book, published by Christian Liberty Press, is a fictional account of Annie and her brother Drew. While spending the summer in England with their parents (who really aren’t part of the story), they meet an old man affectionately known as Mr. Pipes. Mr. Pipes is an organist in the village and is very knowledgeable about church history and specifically hymn writers.

Annie and Drew quickly become friends with Mr. Pipes as he teaches them to fish, row a boat, and takes them on the train to London. During their visits, Mr. Pipes relates the story of a different hymn writer such as Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, John Newton, or William Cowper. Mr. Pipes is a great story-teller and the children are very interested to hear his tales.

Along with presenting the stories of the hymn writers, Annie and Drew are also growing in their faith. Their priorities and behaviors change from the beginning to the end of the book. There is evidence of spiritual growth in the characters.

I received this book with the intention of having my 12 year old daughter, Anna, read it. But now that I’ve read it, I have changed my mind. I would like to use it as a read-aloud for the whole family. Even though the book is recommended for grades 7-10, the story is engaging enough for younger children especially since they’re familiar with many of the hymns discussed. I like the idea of teaching about the hymn writers using a living book instead of just facts about the hymn writers. And rather than get all strict with it and making a schedule and finding extra things to go along with the study, I am allowing us the freedom to just read the book! (Shocking, huh? If you’re reading this and have never made plans that you didn’t use or purchased curriculum and never opened it, then you probably don’t understand what I’m saying at all. But I am finding it necessary to simplify. And I’m finding that simple is often better anyway!)

Another reason that I am not having Anna read it is that I received the pdf of the book. I own a Kindle (the old style with the keyboard) which I love. However, Anna doesn’t like it very much and much prefers “real” books. To  further complicate matters, this book is not in Kindle format (.mobi) but pdf. That means that one page of the book appears on the Kindle screen (which is smaller than the book). Thankfully, the pages in the book are not 8-1/2 x 11, but the words are just barely large enough for me to read in this format. (I do not need reading glasses yet, but I suspect they may be on the horizon.) Anna suffers from frequent headaches, and I fear that this type size would bring on a headache.

I am really pleased with this book, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a gentle way to study hymns and hymn writers. There are also 3 other titles: Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation, Mr. Pipes Comes to America, and  The Accidental Voyage: Discovering Hymns of the Early Centuries. All the books are available from Christian Liberty Press. I’m personally tempted by this complete set of all 4. The pdf version of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is $8.79.

Please visit The Schoolhouse Review Crew to read more reviews of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers.

 

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Disclosure: I received a pdf copy of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Feb 282010
 

by Robert M. McCheyne

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Savior’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.

Oft I walk beneath the cloud,
Dark, as midnight’s gloomy shroud;
But, when fear is at the height,
Jesus comes, and all is light;
Blessed Jesus! bid me show
Doubting saints how much I owe.

When the praise of Heav’n I hear,
Loud as thunders to the ear,
Loud as many waters’ noise,
Sweet as harp’s melodious voice,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

I have been so blessed by this hymn. The words are such a beautiful reminder of our limited understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We tend to minimize our own sin, but standing next to Christ’s perfection we are utterly unworthy. Praise God, He has given me Christ’s righteousness. It is totally of grace that I can never repay.

Sermonaudio.com has the words I’ve listed and the tune that we sing at our church.  Cyberhymnal.org includes additional verses, but uses a different tune.

This post is linked to Song for Sunday at Fenced in Family.

 

Jan 182009
 

by John Newton

“What think ye of Christ?” is the test
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest
Unless you think rightly of Him.
As Jesus appears in your view-
As He is beloved or not-
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy or wrath is your lot.

Some take Him a creature to be-
A man, or an angel at most;
But they have not feelings like me,
Nor know themselves wretched and lost;
So guilty, so helpless am I,
I durst not confide in His blood
Nor on His protection rely,
Unless I were sure He is God.

Some call Him a Saviour in word,
But mix their own works with His plan;
And hope He His help will afford
When they have done all that they can:
If doings prove rather too light
(Admitting their efforts may fail),
They purpose to make up full weight
By casting His name in the scale.

Some call Him “the pearl of great price”
And say He’s the fountain of joys;
Yet feed upon folly and vice,
And cleave to the world and its toys;
Like Judas the Saviour they kiss,
And while they salute Him betray;
O what will profession like this
Avail in His terrible day?

If asked what of Jesus I think,
Tho’ still my best thoughts are but poor,
I’ll say He’s my meat and my drink
My life, and my strength, and my store!
My husband, my trust and my friend,
My Saviour from sin and death’s fall,
My hope from beginning to end,
My portion, my Lord, and my all.

Nov 172008
 

I was in tears last night as we sang this song in church.  I have been going through some time of sorrow that is continuing. It is very likely that I will lose my grandmother within the next couple of weeks.  I thought I would share because I know that there are a lot of churches that don’t regularly sing hymns anymore and this is such a blessing.  I was especially touched by the fourth verse.


How Firm a Foundation
 
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

 

In every condition in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home or abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
For I will be with thee, thy trials to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not dessert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!