Andrew Peterson is an extremely talented musician. You’ve probably heard of his 2004 project, Behold the Lamb. I first heard of him after I saw the show mentioned on dozens of blogs during this past Christmas season. But did you know he wrote a song for a children’s book?
In The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats: An Unlikely Royal Family Tree, Peterson takes the lineage of Christ found in Matthew 1 and sets it to music (the CD comes with the book). It is not uncommon for musicians to set scripture to music, but a genealogy? And did I mention the music is bluegrass? This is the most original idea I’ve seen in a long time.
The book is arranged much like our family photo albums and scrapbooks. The photos are accompanied by captions on scrolls. Some individuals have several pictures showing major events in their lives. For example, when the genealogy reaches David, we see little David with his sheep, then a slightly older David slaying the giant Goliath, and then an older, but crowned, David.
There are layouts illustrating other significant events (Babylonian captivity, Josiah finding the scroll, etc.) in Israel’s history as we get closer and closer to the birth of Christ.
Finally, the pages change from family photographs to a beautiful silhouette of three men on camels following a bright star. The final page reads, “Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Christ.”
My children wanted to listen to the song and follow along in the book over and over again. I just set the CD player on repeat. They loved it! My favorite part, though, was when they finished listening for the umpteenth time and Noah wanted me to read the real stories. He wanted answers! “Why was Josiah good? Why was Jehoiachin a liar? What’s he holding? (It was an idol). Why does he have flies all around him?”
In the corners of every page, there is a “Did you know…” section about the people on the page. A few of these are humorous like the one for Jacob and Esau. It reads, “Did you know…Jacob’s twin brother, Esau was covered by so much red hair, his parent’s called named him “Hairy” and his friends called him “Red”? Most children will find that hilarious. Most of the “Did you know…” parts are designed to spark greater interest in the people and the stories found in the Bible.
Andrew Peterson writes, “Why am I telling you these things? Because the song in this book isn’t just a list of names. It’s a list of people. Real people. People who were good and bad, and somewhere in between, and who were a part of God’s great plan to redeem the world through another real person named Jesus. Just like you’re a part of God’s plan, no matter who your parents or your grandparents or your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents are.”
The book and song are geared toward children, but the song isn’t your typical, cheesy, Bible song. It is really good. Peterson even made it rhyme so as to make it easier to commit to memory. Is there a more important genealogy to memorize?
I happily recommend this book to you and your family.