Skip to main content

Where Have All the Hymn Books Gone?

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?

Why Bible and Hymnals Are Removed From 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 the pews.

Possible Reasons Churches Remove Them

  • 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.

Why Were Pews Designed With Storage for Bibles and Hymnals?

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.

What About the First Pew?

So what about the people sitting on the first pew where there is not 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 the Bible on the back of pews. The hymnbook, also called a hymnal, is a devotional book for those in church.

What a Hymnal Contains

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

  • 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 hymnals 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.

A Church hymnal

A Church hymnal


Choosing a Hymnal for Worship Service

What We Lose When Hymnbooks Disappear

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.