Concordia Publishing House sells one millionth hymnal

CPH aims to put a hymnal into the hands of every Lutheran

Saint Louis, MO—When you hear about a publishing company selling over a million copies in record time, you almost expect the book to have Harry Potter or Twilight in its title. However, Concordia Publishing House (CPH) is proud to announce that this time that is not the case. In fact, after just four years, Lutheran Service Book (LSB) has sold one million copies.

“People need a way to give voice to their faith. There are three core books that can do that: the Bible, the hymnal, and the catechism,” said Rev. Paul McCain, Concordia’s publisher. “The hymnal is the book that helps put our faith in a form that we can easily remember. That is a powerful influence in a Christian’s life.”

In fact, it is so powerful an influence, that even before its release, the hymnal saw great success. Its first print run of 250,000 copies sold out in preorders, and over the next four years, around 80% of the churches in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod adopted LSB. A slightly higher percentage of Lutheran Church–Canada congregations use Lutheran Service Book.

“We are absolutely thrilled to celebrate the overwhelming reception that Lutheran Service Book has had in our churches,” said President and CEO, Dr. Bruce G. Kintz. “At CPH, it is our mission to serve the church by providing resources for today’s ministry, and the hymnal’s success shows us that our mission is being fulfilled.”

A French-language hymnal Liturgies et cantiques luthériens, based on Lutheran Service Book and published by Lutheran Church–Canada with production assistance from CPH is now heading into its second printing.

Although the majority of the first million LSB hymnals went to churches across North America, last month Pastor Gary Benedix made an uncommon purchase and bought a single hymnal. His church, Hope Lutheran in Jackpot, Nevada, was not a part of that 80%. When Pastor Benedix ordered LSB on the Web, he hoped to use it for two things: first, to use as a launching pad for introducing the hymnal to his congregation, and second, as a gift for his only confirmation student.

What came next was a bit more unexpected.

“I got a phone call from Dr. Kintz, and he told me that I had purchased the millionth hymnal,” said Pastor Benedix. “I was confused; I thought they were calling everyone to tell them the news, but he explained that I had actually, physically purchased the millionth hymnal. I couldn’t believe it!”

This retired pastor from Jackpot, Nevada, had indeed hit the jackpot. He had purchased one very special copy of Lutheran Service Book for his tiny church, whose attendance ranged from four to 25 on any given week.

With such a small attendance, the church had not been able to adopt LSB when it was released; but Pastor Benedix was not about to let that stand in his way.

 “The liturgical aspect of worship is so important to me,” he said. “The beauty of the service, especially in LSB, adds depth and spirituality to each person that uses it.”

 In fact, Pastor Benedix was so interested in getting LSB for his congregation that he hoped they would each purchase their own copies to use during worship and at home. As a surprise and special gift to Pastor Benedix, his congregation did not have to be without LSB for long. Because he purchased the millionth hymnal, CPH gave his congregation 30 hymnals as a way of saying thank you.

“We are so excited to get started with Lutheran Service Book and to continue this liturgical tradition with Word and Sacrament in Jackpot,” Pastor Benedix said.

Even though Pastor Benedix’s congregation can now use LSB at church, their pastor is still excited to use the hymnal outside of worship. Not only does he plan to start a few small Bible studies, but he also plans on using that one special hymnal to teach his only confirmation student, McKenzie Heileman.

“I’ll expect her to use it at home to read through the devotional services, the responsive prayer, and the chief parts,” said Pastor Benedix. “It’s difficult to get kids to memorize, but her memory work will be the prayers in the hymnal, which are marvelous.” 

Pastor Benedix’s expectation for McKenzie to use the hymnal at home aligns perfectly with Concordia Publishing House’s hopes for the hymnal’s future, according to Peter Reske, managing editor of music and worship resources.

“If you only use the hymnal on Sunday, you will miss all the little things in there that are so important,” Reske said. “Many things often go overlooked.”

To help members of the LCMS and LCC realize what they may have overlooked over the last four years, CPH has introduced the Hymnal in Every Home campaign, that Pastor McCain hopes will show people just how the hymnal can be used at home.

“It gives great continuity between Sunday morning and home life, because it is basically your one-stop-shop. There are suggested daily Bible readings, hymns, prayers, psalms, and more,” he said. “Why only worship the Lord on Sunday? His word is our sustenance. Can you survive by eating only one day a week? Probably. But God’s buffet is open 24/7 and he invites us to enjoy richly.”

And so, as a way to promote the purchase of hymnals for every home, CPH has lowered their prices significantly—offering the Pew Edition for only $20US and the Gift Edition for $30US.

“From the beginning this has been your hymnal,” said Reske, “and we want to make sure you have every opportunity to get your hands on it.”


Posted By: Matthew Block
Posted On: September 1, 2010
Posted In: National News,

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