Wednesday 1 July 2009

Mr Pipes and the British Hymn Makers

There are a few 'Mr Pipes' books around, but this is the first time I have properly looked at one. Mr Pipes is a fictional character, an older Christian who befriends a couple of American children on 'vacation' in Olney, Buckinghamshire. Through a series of daytrips Mr Pipes introduces them to the joys of sailing, horseriding, pipe organs, birdwatching, and many other thoroughly British activities, all the while teaching them about many of the well-known British hymnwriters. The fiction flows well, the biographical sections are fascinating, and the spiritual content of the hymns is not ignored but rather explained and applied. I like the style. Before I started reading I didn't quite expect an American author to write that well about British hymnwriters, but I actually think Douglas Bond has a good grasp of British culture, history and phraseology. The only slip-up I have found so far is that he thinks the Brits have cream in tea (as in cup of tea). Yuk!
Hymnwriters included are: Thomas Ken, Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, William Williams, John Newton, William Cowper, Augustus Toplady and Thomas Kelly. There are also chapters on Scottish Hymnwriters, Anglican Hymnwriters and Women Hymnwriters. A bonus is that the written music is included for the hymns that are quoted in full.

Mr Pipes and the British Hymn Makers, by Douglas Bond, £9.95. Written for 9-12yr olds. Recommended.


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