Nannie H. Burroughs
How are the Bibles and songbooks in your church faring? Where do you keep them? Who has charge of them? In what condition are they? Every church and Sunday School should have enough Bibles and songbooks for all worshipers--one for every two persons if they can not afford one for each worshiper. Bibles and songbooks cost money. They should be cared for religiously. They should not be soiled, torn, marked, mutilated, thrown around, left uncollected or taken away from the church building. It is a reflection on the officers of the church to have soiled, torn, mutilated Bibles and songbooks used in the congregation.
It is just as essential to have a Bible and hymn book committee as it is to have a pulpit committee. Have you such a committee in your church? If you have not think of the value of such service and assign to that religious duty, five of the most intelligent, active, progressive and dependable people you can find. Appoint a librarian to cooperate with the committee in seeing that the books are collected and put away in order after each service and repaired when necessary. The young people of the church might be very glad to make this their special work.
The entire Bible and Songbook Committee should be taught how to rebind, recover and repair books. They should keep a close check-up on the books and report quarterly to the church the needs and the condition of the books. If the committee does not know how to renovate books the church should pay to have them taught. It would save the money that would have to be spent for new books. Every church and Sunday School should have a book case or a suitable closet or rooms with regular bookshelves in them where the books can be easily and quickly put away. It should have a suitable table for assorting, examining and repair work. Our churches are such poor business institutions that they set bad examples for the membership and spend money unnecessarily.
Have you been in churches where the books are strew all the way from the pulpit to the door? Where they are never collected? Where you are likely to find leaves torn, pages and chapters gone? Have you been to churches where you have to almost issue a search warrant to find a Bible? Do you know there are hundreds of Baptist churches without hymnals. The lack is not due to poverty. It is due to the fact that those who are responsible do not put first things first. People can not learn to worship intelligently without Bibles and songbooks. The entire congregation should take part in the worship. They can not get the full benefit of the services unless they do.
The use of the Bible and songbooks would break up much of the looking around and would draw in many a wandering mind. The Bible and the great hymns of the Christian Church have come to us at a staggering cost in consecrated, devoted service, hundreds of years of hard work and an investment of millions of dollars, and we should get the full spiritual, moral, mental and financial benefit of this tremendous outlay.
During the worship, people should look at the words of our great hymns as they sing them. These words should be burned into their souls. They should be painted on their imaginations and written indelibly upon their minds. This can not be done unless we see the words and see them often. Nobody can gaze long at a time on some of our great old hymns without getting new messages, and a new and deeper meaning each time. Let the worshiper see the printed words and then let him close his eyes and think and he will see God in them. The Bible is absolutely essential in church worship. It should be given its high place in ever congregation. The people will learn to love it by reading it properly in the congregation. They will learn the value of it if the church will not set a bad example by throwing the Bible around as carelessly as they thrown the advertising fans that decorate nearly all of our bookholders around. If the church can not afford songbooks for all, why not have at least a dozen of the great old militant hymns printed on neat cards that can be distributed at each service. Let us take some of the money we throw away in non essentials around the church and get Bibles and hymn books. Let some faithful member remember the Bible and songbook library in his or her will.
God wants to speak to the people out of His Word. The minister is a good proxy, but God has given us the blessed old book so that He can speak to us at some time during the services.