‘I, with body and Soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.’ How many Christians have been comforted over the centuries with these words from the Heidelberg Catechism!
In the early 1560s Frederick III (1516-76), Elector Palatine desired that his subjects be led to a ‘devout knowledge and fear of the Almighty and his holy Word of salvation’. He commissioned a group of theologians and ministers to compose a catechetical summary of biblical truth that could be committed to memory and be an encouragement to personal faith and growth in Christ. The final version was approved by the Synod in Heidelberg (1563), the city lending its name to the catechism.
The Heidelberg Catechism follows the pattern of the Epistle to the Romans. It opens with the question ‘What is your only comfort in life and in death?’, and then examines the realities of human sin and misery (Rom. 1-3:20); salvation in Christ, including faith and repentance (Rom. 3:21-11:36); and the Christian life of thankful obedience in response to God’s grace in Christ (Rom. 12-16). The catechism stands as a faithful testimony to the ancient Christian faith in its scripturally derived shape and content, and further expressed in its exposition and application of the Apostles’ Creed, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer.
Whereas the later Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) is a more detailed and concise summary of the content of God’s Word, the Heidelberg Catechism expounds Scripture’s great truths with a marked devotional warmth and personal application of the whole counsel of God. For these reasons it was profoundly influential in post-Reformation Europe, and it continues to be read, loved and taught today as one of the most cherished catechisms of the Reformed church. – William VanDoodewaard
Why We Have Creeds & Confessions? by Daniel Hyde.
An easy to read layout of the HC here
Also, while at it here is a helpful audios from The Reformation conference at the Santee URC website.