Opening – Marlin Detweiler
Feature Article Remembering the Night the Unsinkable Sank by Robert Plant
Educational Helpsby Laurie Detweiler
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April 2012


This month marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking, and we hope you will enjoy the related article below and join us for the online discussion (called an Author’s Study) with Mr. Plant described in the Announcements section.

We also hope you will take advantage of our free shipping offer this month.


Feature Article

Remembering the Night the Unsinkable Sank

During the early years of the 20th century the shipbuilding yards of Great Britain produced a steady stream of giant passenger liners. To anyone interested, the names of these ships roll easily off the tongue: Oceanic, Majestic, Mauretania, Lusitania, Olympic, and finally in 1912 the largest and most magnificent of all, Titanic. These ships with all their luxurious appointments were designed to provide passengers with an unforgettable journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

In 1907 preparations for a new range of super-sized passenger liners were first drawn up in the offices of Bruce Ismay the Managing Director of White Star Line. Three passenger ships were planned in quick succession all of which would be larger, grander and more luxurious than anything that had ever set sail before. It was intended that the ships Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic would be the unchallengeable Queens of the sea for years to come.

Olympic had already done nearly a year of service when Titanic finally set sail from Belfast to the port of Southampton on 2nd April 1912. The newspapers of the day reported the luxury of her comforts and appointments. They also made much of her sixteen watertight compartments that could be sealed in the event of her hull being breached. This new innovation made the press term her ‘practically unsinkable!’ One writer was even arrogant enough to boast, “Not even God could sink this ship!” However, the Lord Jesus has warned in the Bible, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ (Luke 4:12)

On Wednesday 10th April 1912 thousands of people crowded round the ship in Southampton docks to marvel at her majestic appearance and unmistakable four-funneled profile and watch her sail on her maiden voyage. As she slowly moved out of the port under the command of her captain Edward Smith a disaster nearly struck. Whilst Titanic moved down Southampton water the suction from this new giant ship was so great the mooring ropes of another passenger liner the New York broke and the ship began to be pulled towards Titanic. Only the quick actions of the crew of a tug boat accompanying Titanic averted a collision.

Now at last the Titanic was on her way firstly to Cherbourg, France, and then on to Queenstown on the southern tip of Ireland (known today as Cobh). Passengers in all three classes, first, second and third, travelled in a style and comfort that had been unconceivable just a few years previously. Then Titanic swept majestically away from the coast of Ireland and out into the open sea to commence her journey into destiny.

On Sunday evening 14th April around 100 passengers gathered into the second class dining room to attend a hymn-singing service lead by Ernest Carter the Minister of St Jude’s Church, Whitechapel, London. During the service those attending sang William Whiting’s hymn.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

What a tragic foreshadowing this was of the unforeseeable events that in a couple of hours’ time would engulf the ship and all on board.

High up in the crow’s nest of the forward mast lookout Fredrick Fleet scanned the distant horizon through the inky blackness of the moonless night. He was not unaccustomed to these calm and bitterly cold watches. They always spelt danger! Suddenly, as Fleet continued to stare ahead he saw in the distance an almost undetectable dark silhouette fast approaching the speeding ship. Picking up the phone connecting him to the bridge, he called out, “Iceberg dead ahead.”

First Officer William Murdoch ordered the helmsman to turn to port in the hope of avoiding a collision. However, the ship continued to race towards what appeared to be an iceberg of gigantic proportions. Eventually the huge vessel commenced very slowly to move away from the looming danger. However, the ice had been spotted too late and a collision proved unavoidable! A faint vibration ran through the ship as the ‘berg’ bumped along the starboard side, popping the ship’s rivets and allowing water to enter along a 300-foot length.

Captain Smith immediately ordered the ship’s carpenter to seek out the extent of the damage. All too soon the gloomy news arrived. Despite its water-tight compartments, the damage to the ship was too great, the water entering the damaged hull was unstoppable, and Titanic was going to flounder! The ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews, who was also on board, solemnly calculated that the ship would stay afloat for an hour or maybe two but no more.

Never had anyone conceived that such a dreadful event would ever take place. The whole idea of such a ship sinking in this way had been unthinkable. Here were over 2,200 people on the largest ship in the world and within hours it would be at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean! Ships listening to the ‘SOS’ messages streaming forth across the airwaves could hardly believe what they were hearing: Titanic was sinking!

Captain Smith ordered the preparation of the sixteen standard lifeboats and four collapsible ‘Englehardt’ lifeboats. He knew that there was room in them for just 1,178 people if they were all filled to capacity. Tragically, despite Titanic carrying more lifeboats than the Board of Trade regulations required, space for the majority of the passengers and crew was unavailable. The call went round the ship; “Women and children to the lifeboats!” However, we know that God’s salvation provides room for all, for the Bible says ‘Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Romans 10:13)

Looking back we can hardly begin to fathom the unimaginable horror that must have swept across passengers and crew. Husbands said hurried and tearful goodbyes to their wives, women carrying youngsters cried as they were helped into the frighteningly small lifeboats, with a harrowing drop of over sixty feet to the water. The concern of many of the crew was that the lifeboats, if fully loaded, would break in two on the way down to the water. As a result some of them left the ship with not even half their life-saving seats filled!

As details of the tragedy slowly made their way around the world, people found it hard to take in the unbelievable news. The newspapers of the day told the stark and terrible story that the world’s newest, grandest ship had floundered taking over 1,500 souls into eternity. The captain of the rescue ship Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, rescued 705 survivors from the lifeboats in the freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Next morning as he looked at the icebergs and pack ice that he had raced through in the dark, he declared, “Some other hand than mine was on the helm during the night.”

The unthinkable had happened, and the unsinkable had sunk and disappeared into the unfathomable depths of the great Atlantic Ocean! Questions were asked and two boards of inquiry would be set up on both sides of the Atlantic. As a direct result of the tragedy, the ‘International Ice patrol’ was set up to monitor the presence of icebergs in the shipping lanes of the world. Never again would such a thing be allowed to happen. Thankfully, God didn’t provide for our salvation as an afterthought. He knew our great need as sinners and provided a Saviour—His Son! In unfathomable love to mankind the Bible records, ‘The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the World.’(1 John 4:14)

Robert Plant

Robert Plant is from a Christian Brethren (Gospel Hall) background and works as a Christian Evangelist. He has strong links with John Ritchie Ltd. He conducts about 20 series of children’s meetings each year. He lives in Northern Ireland.


Educational Helps

This is the issue of epistula that I try to give my pep talk about getting through the year and pressing forward with your best effort. I also will tell you that this is the time to pull all the tricks out that you possibly can to keep your children motivated. A few weeks ago a large box of review copies arrived, and on top was a stack of comic books. At first I wondered and then I realized that I had actually asked for them, as I thought they could be interesting for the reluctant reader. As I have read through them, I also realized that they would be a great resource to use at this time of year to keep things interesting. I asked our graphic designer to put together a unit study on the history of comic books. Click here to see it. And here is a link to some historical comics that I think are fun!

Laurie Detweiler

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Free Shipping
Woo-hoo! It's FREE SHIPPING on all U.S. orders placed in April. When you place your order, simply ask for the April Shipping Special. Be encouraged to place orders in April, a slower month, and not wait until the busy summer months. If you place your order on our web site, simply enter item number FS0412 on the Express Order page and click Add to Order. We will deduct the shipping amount from your order manually before we ship.



Q. My first grader will be finishing up the Phonics Museum this year, and I’m considering lesson plans for her next year, but I’m wondering if the Phonetic Zoo is the next best step. I saw on another website that Phonetic Zoo should be started in 3rd grade. Will she be ready in 2nd grade?
A. Thanks for a great question! Your daughter will have a great foundation having completed the Phonics Museum, so we recommend that you do begin Level A in Phonetic Zoo. Take it slow and steady and make your goal simply to complete Level A in 2nd grade. You may want to do a faster review of Level A when you begin 3rd grade before moving up, but 2nd grade is not too young to begin building knowledge of spelling rules.

Q. We're new to VP, and my daughter just started one of the Self-Paced history courses. I see at the bottom of the cards the recommended books for each week, but, in looking at the catalog I see where there is also a collection of historical fiction books that are recommended. Is there a schedule for when these fiction books are read? There are also several more pages of supplemental books listed for sale, but I can't figure out if these are for something different than the Self-Paced class, such as the Live Online or Parent Taught class?
A. Thanks for joining the greatest customers in the world! Your question is a good one. On your child’s Self-Paced course home page, near the top, you’ll find posted two lists of the historical fiction titles. Level 1 is for younger children and Level 2 for older. The lists associate the books with particular lessons. In the Self-Paced course, the historical fiction component is optional, but highly recommended. As you’ve noted, our catalog offers an abundance of additional books both in historical fiction and literature.  Call us at 800-922-5982 or write to if you’d like help making selections.

Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to



Online Course Registration for 2012-13
Registration for online courses in Veritas Press Scholars Academy (VPSA) for Fall 2012 (and Summer, too) has been going on since the beginning of February. Our explosive growth in our live teacher-led courses has been both exciting and a little hectic. You'll see some new offerings alongside the standards you've come to expect. If you haven’t looked into these, don’t hesitate—they fill up fast. Registration details and the list of course offerings are posted here.
Titanic Book Author Discussion Event
On Thursday, April 17th at 8:00 pm ET, Veritas Press will hold a special event, and you’re invited. (This is a date change from the original announcement due to the fact that we accidentally scheduled it on Maundy Thursday.) April 14, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Though the story is well known from movies such as The Unsinkable Molly Brown and more recently, Titanic, there is more to the story that is rarely told. Robert Plant has written a book which recounts the final hours of an on board Christian hero. Mr. Plant wrote the book, Titanic: The Ship of Dreams, and will be discussing it and the lessons we can learn from the Titanic. Contact us at if you did not receive an e-mail detailing how to attend this very special discussion live online with Robert Plant.

George Washington Spymaster Contest
In one of the activities from the February epistula issue, we invited your children to read the article, George Washington Spymaster: The Culper Ring. Then they were to choose an aspect of the story that could be depicted as a comic strip in an exciting way.  Congratulations to Isaac Kim, our winner; and thanks to all the entrants. Isaac wins as his prize the book George Washington Spymaster—How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary Way by Thomas B. Allen.

Veritas Press In-A-Week Courses
Don't miss our “In-A-Week” adult education courses which are planned for this summer. These intensive classes are geared to teachers or parents. We are offering Latin and several levels of Omnibus classes—all taught online by outstanding teachers with considerable expertise in the material. What better way to prepare yourself to teach these courses or just learn the material for your own edification? Please be encouraged to join us for these great opportunities.
For more information and to register, visit

Omnibus II In-A-Week          June 11-15      Graham Dennis
Latin In-A-Week                    June 18-22      Joanna Hensley
Omnibus III In-A-Week         June 18-22      Graham Dennis
Omnibus I In-A-Week           June 25-29      Bruce Etter


Opening of a New Position at Veritas Press
We are looking to hire a Vice President of Marketing and Development to work from our home office in Lancaster, Pa. In addition to being a mature Christian, the ideal candidate will have considerable experience in contemporary forms of marketing (especially social media), be an effective fundraiser, possess a love for classical Christian education, and be knowledgeable about Veritas Press. Résumés should be submitted to

Teaching and Consultant Openings with Veritas Press Scholars Academy
Receiving résumés for Online Teachers and Diploma Consultants!—We have needs for experienced teachers for the 2012 academic year and beyond. Teachers can work from home, the beach, or anywhere high-speed internet is available. Send teacher résumé to Bruce Etter.

Open House at our Warehouse
If you're in the area, be sure to stop by our open house, May 11-12, 2012, from 8:00 AM -5:00 PM each day.  If you are attending the CHAP convention in Harrisburg, we are only 40 minutes away. We have giveaways scheduled throughout the days, along with free continental breakfast, free lunch, a grab bag for each family, and personal shoppers to assist you. Come with a friend.  We're located at 1829 William Penn Way, Lancaster, PA, 17601.
Interesting Facts about Veritas Press
Our question for March was, “As of December 31, 2011, what 3 states had the most enrollees in our Diploma Program?” Tiebreaker: rank your 3 choices, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Submitting the closest answer was Alice Hui of Rye, Victoria, from down under, who guessed PA, TX, GA. The correct answer was PA, CA, GA in that order.

Our question for April is, “In March 2012, we did business in nine countries in addition to the U.S. Name the nine countries. The most correct answers wins.

The first person to e-mail the correct or closest answer by April 15, 2012, 5:00 PM (ET) to will receive a $25 gift certificate.


Visit us on the web at or call us at 1-800-922-5082.

Browse the Veritas Press virtual catalog online!