Where Have All The Hymn Books Gone?

Updated on August 20, 2018
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Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.

Where are the hymnals and Bibles that used to be in the back of the pews?
Where are the hymnals and Bibles that used to be in the back of the pews?

Have you noticed that a lot of churches no longer have Bibles and hymn books in the back of pews like they used to? That is very unfortunate, but there are reasons church leaders made the decision to remove those two books from the back of pews.

At one time, people had a large family Bible at home on the living room table so any member of the family could pick it up and read. The Bible was too big to take to church. Therefore, the church made sure there was a pew Bible for people to use while at church. That's why manufacturers of church furniture designed the back of pews for Bibles and hymnals to be kept.

So what about the people sitting on the first pew where there is not a back of a pew in front of them? Manufacturers took care of that situation and designed the bottom of the first pew with a storage area underneath it. See it in the photo below.

There is space underneath the first pew to store Bibles and hymnals.
There is space underneath the first pew to store Bibles and hymnals.

The Bible and the Hymnal

The Bible is the instructional book for a disciple of Christ. It is God's diary. That is where people find out what is on God's mind and what's in His heart.

The hymnal is the companion to the Bible that used to be next to Bible on the back of pews. The hymnbook, also called hymnal, is the devotional book for those in church.

Hymnals include hymns that have stood the test of time to be beneficial to churchgoers. The book contains not only hymns, but there are many other things that are important for spiritual development in the hymnal.

  • Hymns of Christian hymnody prior to the early 20th century are included. Usually, there are over 500 songs for congregational singing.
  • Responsive Readings based on different themes
  • Articles of Faith
  • Creeds
  • Church Covenant
  • Confessions
  • Prayers
  • Scripture Readings for Calls to Worship
  • Examples of Benedictions
  • Meditations
  • Topical Index for Scriptural Readings
  • Topical Index for Themes

Back of pews with Bibles and hymnals
Back of pews with Bibles and hymnals

Benefits of Using Hymnals

When people share hymnal in churches, it helps bind the people of God together. Besides, songs in the books are congregational hymns where everyone can sing together. Whenever a choir sings a song the congregation doesn't know, the congregation just watches without joining in. In those cases, the singing becomes entertainment instead of inclusive. The congregation is left out of that part of the worship experience.

Some churches still have pew Bibles and hymnals, and they are to be commended. They realize those books are investments into the spiritual life of parishioners. The books are expensive for the church to purchase. Often they are gifts from people who wanted the church to use them and not store them away in boxes.

Possible Reasons Bible and Hymnals Are Removed From the Pews

A lot of churches have removed them for the following reasons.

  • Pages are missing from some of the books. Have you been asked to turn to Hymn Number 67, and the hymnal you are holding does not have that particular hymn. That's because a child has torn it from the book.
  • Pages have been colored or marked up by bored children.
  • Choirs are singing more modern songs that are not in the hymnals.
  • Scriptures and songs are displayed on a screen for all the people to see and join in with the reading and singing.
  • As far as Bibles are concerned, a lot of techies use their cell phones or iPads to read the Bible.

Does your church have Bibles and Hymnals in the pews?

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      2 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Dora, that's right. In a lot of churches these days a lot of things are on the screen. Thanks for your comments that are always appreciated.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Good question. Now, it's "Let's turn to the screen," but all the benefits you mention are missing.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      2 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Bless you, Gunnar. Continue singing to the glory of God.

    • Gunnar G Campbell profile image

      Gunnar Campbell 

      2 years ago from Champaign

      I am blessed to be an LCMS Lutheran. We Lutherans are sometimes known as the "singing church" because of the emphasis we place on singing and hymnody. The Lutheran tradition has some of the greatest hymns ever written (in my humble, unbiased opinion *wink wink*). Anyways, this is a nice, thought-provoking article.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      2 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Katie, Good for you for the thoughtful donation in memory of your late cousin. It is also good that your church uses pew Bibles and hymnals. My last church removed all the pew Bibles and hymnals. There are none in any of the pews.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Several years ago my church purchased new bibles and hymn books,I donated one in the memory of my late cousin Corine Bowers.


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