Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation


Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation, Douglas Bond
(Christian Liberty Press, 2000), pb., 240 pp.

This second volume of the Mr. Pipes books lived up to the standard set by the first volume. It was a great read which was eagerly anticipated by my boys each day and taught them great lessons.

The book opens with a little discussion of the change in Annie in Drew since their conversions while spending the previous summer with Mr. Pipes (from the first book). Bond describes their parents noticing a real change in the children though they did not understand the reason. This is a great point in a children’s book emphasizing the point that conversion results in tangible, noticeable change in everyday life.

Whereas in the previous book the children were in England with their mother, this time Mr. Pipes has asked them to come with him on a tour of parts of Europe visiting key places of the reformation and discussing the hymns written during that time. One of the fun parts of these books is that they describe vacations I would love to take! My boys felt the same- history, castles, cathedrals, fishing & sailing! I even paused in the description of one city (Strasbourg, I think) to talk with my boys about how neat it would be one day to be able to visit these places. They heartily agreed. I went on to tell them that most likely we would not get the opportunity to visit all these places together, but that I hoped maybe one day they might do so with their own children. I told them I expected them if they ever did make it to one of these places to call me while they were there and tell me about it. I look forward to that happening one day, where perhaps our shared enjoyment in reading might in the next generation become an actual visit and a continuation of our shared experience.

Mr. Pipes and the children visit sites connected with Luther and Calvin as well as eight other lesser known hymn writers. Along the way various lessons about the gospel and Christian living are nicely expressed. For example after learning and singing “Jesus, Priceless Treasure,” this conversation followed:

I think this one might come in handy,” said Drew. “I think it’d be a good one to memorize—you know, for if, well, if trouble ever comes to us.”
“Oh, not if, but when my boy,” said Mr. Pipes sadly. “This world is not heaven, filled with sin and sorrows and disappointment as it is.” (140)
This is a good and important lesson. Later, after singing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (one of my favorites), this is written:

“A thrill at God’s goodness and mercy filled Annie until she felt she might burst. And Drew thought of God’s marvelous wisdom making him—Andrew Willis—for a life of adoration and obedience to God. He wondered at the line: “…If with his love he befriend thee.” Right then, no task seemed too demanding when done in the service of the God of all the universe who had befriended him” (159).
Then they visited a French speaking Swiss family and found that Psalm singing was a regular aspect of family life After singing with them Psalm100 (“All People That on the Earth Do Dwell”), Drew’s experience is described this way:

“He felt his heart and faith strangely united with Christians living in another land and at another time, yet united by a common worship—a worship filled with music worthy of God in every place and throughout all ages” (216)
This is certainly one of the benefits of great hymns- knowing that you are joining your voice with many who have gone before you.

I cannot say enough good about this book. I will mention one place where I did some editing. The boy, Drew, typically responds to Mr. Pipes by saying, “Yeah.” That is not an acceptable response from a child to an adult in our home, but that is easily corrected in the reading.

This is a great book. Read it to your family and sing together. I’ll close with a quote that appears at the very beginning of the book:

“Godly families are different from the ungodly by openly singing the praises of God, when the others sing wanton and idle songs.” – Richard Baxter


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3 Comments:

At 9:12 AM, Blogger jmattingly said...

Dr. Van Neste,

I know it would vary, but what type of age range would you recommend for these? We read a good deal of chapter books to our 6-year old son, including some Lamplighters. Our 3-year old kind of hangs in there though she doesn't quite catch it all.

Thanks for the reviews- these really look good!

Jeremiah

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Ray Van Neste said...

Good question, Jeremiah.
My seven year old absolutely loved the Mr Pipes books. I am sure he would have last year. I would guess that the lower age range for which this book would work well would probably be 5, and this is enhanced if they are laready beign read to in the way you describe.

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger jmattingly said...

Thanks!

 

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