Back in 1985, when the church published the new hymnbooks, our ward didn't have the money to buy all new ones for the whole congregation, so families were asked by the Bishop at the time (my grandpa) to consider purchasing a hymnbook for their family's use. If you could donate just one, great. If you could donate more, then do it! Donated books were inscribed (by my Mom) with the person or family's name and the year: 1986.
It was such a special and wonderful thing to see these new green books appear in the pews! And we were instructed on more than one occasion from the pulpit on how these books were to be treated. They were to be used carefully and stored "spine-down" to prevent wear and tear.
Over the years, we have often enjoyed flipping to the front page of the hymnbooks to see whose name is inscribed in the front. Sometimes the people have moved away or passed on and are remembered with fondness. Sometimes, the person whose name is there, we haven't seen in a while and we're reminded to seek after their welfare. Sometimes, the name we see is our own.
So, we're sitting in church this morning, in my home ward, with two of my three sisters, and my sister Dawn realizes that the hymnbook that my daughter is using is the one donated by my parents in behalf of my sisters Dawn and Cara back in 1986. We took this silly photo just for fun, and remembered all the good times we had together around these books, and flipped through the other hymnbooks nearby looking for more familiar names...a ritual!
Now whenever I visit a chapel and see hymnbooks that are tattered and excessively worn, I get kind of irritated, I guess, and I think, this ward clearly didn't donate these hymnbooks themselves! If they had, they'd be treating their books like the special gifts they are. Even now when I go home, our hymnbooks which are now nearly 30 years old, are still in very nice condition, with careful repairs made when needed, and stored spine-down.
I recently heard that new hymnbooks are in the works for the church. I'm guessing that the financial affairs of wards are different now, and maybe most people will just access the new hymnbooks on their devices, but oh, how there'll always be a place in my heart for these hymnals, bought at personal, financial sacrifice, by members of the Great Lorain Ward!
PS - It's my sisters Cara's 40th Birthday today!
Happy Birthday, Cara!