Were you aware of the fact that in the 450 history of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563-2013) there have been several adaptations of the HC prepared and published for special purposes of instruction and learning?
Some are abbreviations, such as our own “Compendium of the Christian Religion” dated 1599. This version of the HC was actually prepared by a a Dutch Reformed pastor whose purpose was “to have available a document which the youth of the church could more easily memorize than the rather lengthy questions and answers of the ‘Heidelberg Catechism” (from an introduction penned by Prof.H.Hanko).
Others are expansions of the HC, one of which we already featured here this year. We might well call these “catechisms on the catechism”.
The churches in Germany did the same thing with the HC early on in its history. An adaptation of the HC appeared in German as early as 1684, and this work was later translated for the German Reformed churches in this country (U.S.A.) in 1849. This particular volume was another recent addition to the Seminary library as part of our commemoration of the HC this year. The full title of the book is The Heidelberg Catechism, or Short Instruction in Christian Doctrine, as it is conducted in the Churches and Schools of the Palatinate and elsewhere, explained and confirmed with proofs from the Holy Scriptures, the whole adapted to the use of catechetical classes, sabbath schools, and family instruction. Translated from the German by Rev. J.H.Good and H.Harbaugh (M.Kieffer & Co, Chambersburg, 1849).
In the Preface the translators explain why this work was originally prepared and why it is worthy of being translated into English:
As a symbol of faith, then, the bare Catechism is above all price. The church could have nothing better to hold up before the world as her faith; saying at the same time to all her children in the language of the motto on the title page of the old edition of the Palatinate Catechism: ‘According to this rule search the Scriptures.’ The Church needs, however, also, for the instruction of the young, this same symbol simplified. This want was felt by our forefathers in the Palatinate at an early date. Measures were also taken to meet this want. For this purpose they published, as early as 1684, the Catechism, a translation of which is here presented to the Church (i.e., to the German Reformed Churches in the U.S. -cjt).
This Catechism was intended to make the system of catechization more extensive, and at the same time more plain and easy. It was used pretty extensively in this country (in German -cjt) in the earlier history of the German Reformed Church. …Many of the oldest members of our Church still living, were instructed from it in their youth…. All praise and cherish it, with the same enthusiasm as they do the recollections of their childhood and the vows of their youthful consecration to God. The language of their hearts is; May it live forever!
You may find this full (and free!) title at Google books here.