I think it’s some sort of law that pastors have to like books. Or something like that.
Well, law or no, I like books. And on my shelf in my office are some books that are special, interesting, or just mean something to me for different reasons.
This book is one of them. It’s an English Language Lutheran hymnal, the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book, published by Concordia Publishing House in 1927. It’s neat just as a hymnal. There are no written musical staffs; the book only contains the lyrics of the hymns, liturgies, psalms, etc. Some of the hymns are interesting for the English translation that is used for them, which sound strange to our “modern” ears.
But the best part of this hymnal for me is the fact that it was my grandmother’s. Imprinted in faded letters on the front cover is the name: Lillie R. A. Steffenhagen. My grandmother (Grandma Walters as I used to call her) was given this hymnal as a gift on her confirmation. The reason I know this is a lengthy inscription written by her sponsors on one of the opening pages of the book. It’s beautiful, and I’ll reproduce it here:
Dear Lillie: —
This Hymnal is presented to you in remembrance of your confirmation from your sponsors for diligent use.
“You have professed a good profession before many witnesses.” and, now, dear Lillie, “hold that fast which thous hast that no man take thy crown.” Yes, “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life,” says the Lord, Rev.2,10.
Mr. Emil Burfeind
Mrs. Henry Ahrens
West Florence, Minn.
July 30, 1933.
My grandmother received her crown of life nearly thirty years ago, and it is always moving to me to see this hymnal that was given to her. What a blessing to have the faith passed down to the next generation, who in turn is entrusted to teach the next. I’m thankful for my grandmother, and though I knew her only a short time, God used her to bless me now and forever.