I’ve mentioned before that I collect hymnals. I prefer older, antique hymnals, but I’m just as interested in newer versions, particularly if it’s from a congregation with which I’m not as familiar. One of the first things I’ll do when visiting a church is grab a hymnal to see what they are using.
On occasion I’ll Google the term “antique hymnal” to see what comes up on eBay or other sites just to see if there are some interesting hymnals available. Recently these searches have found something that really makes my skin crawl. I think the phrase is “Antique Hymnal and Ephemera Crafts” and I’ve come across this blasphemy most often on that bastion of bad taste, Etsy.com. No, I won’t be posting any links because to me that would be just like posting a link to porn.
Crafters are using old hymnal pages to create all manner of evil, from wreathes…
…to gift wrapping…
…and even to purses…
Some of these Etsy vendors were even selling the raw materials to commit such travesty. You could purchase bundles of sheets ripped from old hymnals, but wrapped in fancy lace…
…or just stacks of pages.
You could even purchase pre-mangled music in case you were too squeamish to kill a hymnal yourself.
Other websites described that process, such as this one…
..which tells crafters to “Take an old music book or hymnal, run some pages through a paper shredder and you’ve got great confetti. Use it inside glass bottles, as bird nests, in plants, etc.”
To me this is almost akin to grilling giant panda steaks and making a coat from the pelt.
Hymnals are an endangered species, as are even the hymns themselves. Churches are now moving toward praise choruses projected on screens. I haven’t found a good iPad app for hymnals, but I know it’s just a matter of time. I have to wonder how much longer hymnals will be produced by denominations.
And here I find myself in conflict. I’m a big proponent of digital textbooks for schools. Printed texts are costly, and are outdated long before they are adopted. Adoption also gets mired in political controversy over what is included or omitted.
Hymnals are pretty much in the same boat. The comments from the woman I encountered at last week’s funeral attest to that. Certainly the proponents of praise and worship music would say that hymnals are outdated long before they are adopted. However, probably the economics of purchasing and updating hymnals is the driving factor in their decline in churches.
I think the difference between hymnals and textbooks is that a hymnal has greater longevity. It deals with concepts meant to span all time, as opposed to a textbook that should be updated with the most current knowledge available. However, even though they have greater longevity, hymns and hymnals do change over time. To me one of the appeals of antique hymnals is that they present a snapshot of the times in which they were adopted. I have hymnals from the early 1900’s full of temperance hymns. Some of the revival and camp meeting hymnals are full of allusions that we would never hear in today’s churches because they are outdated and almost “campy”, so to speak. How about “The Great Speckled Bird” or “The Royal Telephone?”
Changing musical tastes, technology, and economic realities aside, I guess what galls me most about these crafters is that they are using something rare and old for such a fleeting purpose. I doubt a wreath of paper or gift wrap will last as long or have as much meaning as the original book from whence they came.
…thus endeth the rant, Selah.
10 thoughts on “Hymnal Blasphemy”
TOTALLY agree with you Tom! What’s next – stained glass windows as fish tank bling-bling. Books like these are treasures.
Last night at our church small group meeting an older woman told the story of learning an old hymn based on the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree. It was bizarrely hilarious. I wish I could remember the words. There was a line something like, “May we all not just become waving leaves.”
I wish you could have recorded it somehow. Sounds interesting.
Thanks for posting a link to an article on our site. Also appreciate your pics of the re-used hymnals…the purse is rather amusing!
I’m the same way about old textbooks, especially literature ones, as well as hymnals.
I’m sorry but this is just hysterical. Then again, I draw in my Bible, if decorating a hymnal or Bible page and using it as art violates your conscience, don’t do it, but if it brings me closer to God, it is not your place to condemn. God will judge.
I’m glad you find it hysterical, but your logic is flawed. You state, “If decorating a hymnal or Bible page and using it as art violates your conscience, don’t do it.” I put that in the same boat as, “If vandalism violates your conscience, don’t do it.” That means anyone who doesn’t feel so inclined can paint up the place with graffiti, and “God will judge.” And we will be the poorer until God gets around to it.
I see both sides. While hymnals in good condition should remain so, I have found many that are falling apart at the seams, already missing pages, etc. These I have no problem putting to better use and creating something beautiful that someone will enjoy and display. At the same time, God cares how we treat and care for each other … not an old songbook.
I have many old hymnals, very old, I do not wish to get in the hands of a “crafter”. I have a need to find a home for them since I’m cleaning out my storages spaces so my children won’t have to do it when I’m gone.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Carol – I can think of a couple of options. You might check to see if a local historical society or other organization might want them. If you live near a college with a music department they might be interested. I’m not sure I would suggest selling at a yard sale because at that point they could very well wind up in the hands of a crafter.