A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Kristin Stiles
Not only do many hymns of the Christian faith have wonderful theological content, but so many of them have very interesting back stories. Blind Fanny Crosby wrote about “visions of rapture now burst on my sight” in Blessed Assurance. Recently bereaved Philip Bliss wrote “It is well with my soul.” The lyrics go deeper when we see the context from which they are written. Many adults are not aware of the origins of many familiar hymns and certainly neither are young children. Songs they grow up hearing and may become callous to receive fresh new life when they learn how they came to be.
In Amazing Grace¸ the Najapfours take the young reader through the tumultuous life of John Newton. They trace his story from his early years with a mother who was greatly devoted to God and taught him from the scriptures but who died when he was young to his years of rebellion and sin as the captain of a slave ship. They describe his conversion and how his life changed so radically after that. Sprinkled throughout are questions that allow the children and their parents to interact with the text and to speculate on how they would have dealt with some of these situations themselves. The book concludes with three more questions for discussion that help little ones to understand the hymn even better.
Overall, I think this is an excellent resource for families. I heartily approve of sharing the “stories behind favorite hymns” with children. It raises their level of comprehension and appreciation for these hymns. I think the way they share the story makes it very accessible to this age group, too. My one critique would be of the illustrations. They strike me as similar to anime which isn’t to my personal liking. Sometimes I found the pictures a little distracting. That is just a minor issue, however. I would certainly recommend this book and I do hope that these authors add more titles to this series soon.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
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