Sunday, June 23, 2013

“The Family Worship Book” by Terry L. Johnson

The Family Worship Book by Terry Johnson serves as a good resource for those looking for a more deeper and substantial time of family worship, going beyond basic devotional practices and actually digging deeper with example outlines of worship, Scriptural reading, hymns, prayer, creeds and confessions, etc. The first few sections introduce what family worship is, why it's important, and how to get started. After the first few chapters the book feels like it goes directly into reference-mode, including a Bible-reading checklist, catechism, and then copious inclusion of psalter songs and hymns.
And while I'm all for this book and think that it's an excellent resource for getting started, the problem becomes that for things such as the sample responsive readings in the book, you're either left having to get multiple copies of the same book, or make copies of the pages that you want to use, and repeatedly in reading this book I found myself wondering, "so why wouldn't you just get a stack of Trinity Hymnals and use those for family worship time?" since so much of what this book includes as reference material is already in the Trinity hymnal (including the Westminster Confession, the Shorter Catechism and plenty of responsive readings, etc.) In fact, it seems like HUGE sections of the book could have been skipped and that Johnson could have just said "Go and buy a stack of Trinity hymnals for your family worship time" (a quick Google search for "trinity hymnal" will find a bunch of sites selling these, around $20 each, in both regular and Baptist flavors, too...) Using individual hymnals for each family member allows everyone to have their own to use for singing and catechism, and they can also make notes in their own copies of favorite hymns, etc.

One other issue I found was the fact that although this book includes a number of hymns, the songs don't include the actual musical notation, only the words, and are followed with comments at the bottom of the song like "All saints old", and speaking as someone with limited musical skills, that type of notation means nothing to me. It would have helped tremendously if the hymns included the musical notation as well, because in that situation if you aren't familiar with the melody you could at least play out the melody on the piano first if it's a hymn you don't know.

So those few gripes aside, it's still a good book for someone new to the idea of family worship who wants to get started, and there are some excellent ideas to incorporate, but again, seems like much of this material could have been skipped, and much more sensibly, simply pick up a few copies of the Trinity hymnal (enough for each family member) and go that route instead.

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