Old hymnals still popular
Books first published in 1902 and 1927 remain good sellers for MennoMedia, serving conservative churchesBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
Stacked in neat piles on warehouse shelves at MennoMedia’s main office in Harrisonburg, Va., two sets of black-bound hymnals look out of place by a century.
In heavy lettering, the title pages still tout Mennonite Publishing House in Scottdale, Pa. — a nod to MennoMedia’s publishing grandparent.
The Gothic-inspired gold-foil lettering conjures a time when not just the Amish used horses to get to church.
The 1902 Church and Sunday School Hymnal and the 1927 Church Hymnal have seen few, if any, changes — and that’s the way their users like it. Thousands of the hymnals continue to be sold to conservative Mennonite groups each year, often through distributors other than MennoMedia.
Eastern Mennonite Publications in Ephrata, Pa., is one such distributor. Board member Eby W. Burkholder said EMP has a great appreciation for both hymnals.
“They represent the more traditional type of singing which we as a conservative Mennonite church are attempting to preserve,” he said.
The Church Hymnal was the songbook of choice for Mennonite Church congregations until the 1969 Mennonite Hymnal was introduced.
J.D. Brunk compiled the 384-page Church and Sunday School Hymnal for its initial 1902 publication. The songs were mostly English, though 50 German hymns are also included.
David Luthy of Pathway Publishers in Aylmer, Ont., said the Amish organization has sold the hymnal to area conservative Mennonites since 1964.
“That is, though, not to say it is used by most Amish,” said Luthy, who is Amish. “It is one of several hymnals used in our local community at Sunday evening youth singings. How many other Amish settlements use it, I do not know.”
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