By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
As an institution – a family, a business, a civic or social organization, a church – grows, matures, and evolves over the years, it accumulates things. These things can be physical, to be sure, but can also be mental or spiritual: the memories and recollections of the individual members; a legacy of works done in the community of which it is a part; or the direct impact, great or small, it has on its members.
Often times the physical objects serve as a tangible reminder of the mental and spiritual accomplishments, and can therefore be difficult to let go of those objects, even when they have outlived their practical purposes. Getting rid of such things can feel like a disservice – to the objects themselves, to the memories of their use, and to the memories of those who used them. CGS is no different in this respect – take a tour through some of the nooks and crannies of our building, and you find the accumulations of generations of worship and service.
Of particular interest to me are the hundreds of hymnals that can be found in a crawl space off of the choir loft (among other places). As the ELCA has updated hymnals and other worship materials, and particularly since CGS has moved to printing the hymns directly in the bulletins, many of these books have not seen the light of day in years, let alone use in worship service.
The majority of our collection consists of the Lutheran Book of Worship (the “Green Book”), which served as the “official” hymnal of the ELCA from 1978 to 2006, but we also have many copies of With One Voice (the “Blue Book”, which was published in 1995 as a supplement to the LBW) and the Service Book and Hymnal (the “Red Book”, which dates to 1955). Many of these hymnals were bought for the church by our members, who have dedications in the front to them or to their loved ones, and many of these members or their families remain active with us today.
This brings me to the point of my missive: as CGS looks forward to how our space may be best used (and perhaps modified), we are also taking stock of the things we have accumulated, and finding the best place and use for them. Therefore, we will be finding new homes for our hymnals, be it with another congregation, individuals, libraries, or other uses. We will be going through and making a list of all dedicants in the hymnals and reaching out to them or their families to have the opportunity to take those hymnals home.
It may seem strange for a church to get rid of its hymnals; even more so when you connect the physical object to the years of worship and community it witnessed. But the truth is these books have for many years simply been “taking up space” in a dark corner of our building, and we’d like to honor their memory and use by allowing the opportunity for others to use them as well.
If you know that one or more of those hymnals has your name (or that of a loved one) in it, let us know and we’ll make sure it gets to you. If you’d just like a hymnal (or two) to have in your home, let us know that as well! We’ll be working on this over the next couple of months and hope to have new homes for all the hymnals by Labor Day.
We give thanks to God for the gifts of music and community, and thanks for the role that our hymnals have played in allowing us to share those gifts.
Christ the Good Shepherd
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