Green Hymnbook


One day, sitting in church, Emily opened the hymnbook and thought “Is every hymn just a poem set to music?” Growing up, she spent each Sunday flipping through the green bound hymnal. The words were familiar and predictable, but her perspective immediately changed when she considered each verse was a poem. Each lyricist was a poet. Each text was written by a person with unique experiences, seeking faith and enlightenment through self expression. 

This realization inspired her to create a collection of original linocut prints. Each print is based on one of hymns from the 1985 edition of the hymnbook issued by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The illustrations were inspired by the text, the author’s background, and Emily’s experience with the topic. Once she decided on an image, she carved it into soft rubber to form a stamp. Each page was typed on a 1942 Underwood typewriter and stamped with Cranfield Relief Ink.

Each day in 2020, Emily typed the words of a hymn on her typewriter, sketched a design, carved a stamp, and printed it. The year started out calm, but quickly got chaotic with the onset of a global pandemic. Taking a little time, often early in the morning to type, design, and carve, offered a solace that could come in no other way. The year culminated in binding each page into a book, dedicated to her mother.

Shortly after finishing the book, a second copy was commissioned and produced. This version was hand typed and printed, and professionally bound by Lucy Gierhan at Perfect Touch Binding in Plattsmouth Nebraska. A scanned copy of the Green Hymnbook is available on 77 of the hymns have been excluded as they are protected by copyright.

This project started out with an idea to dig deeper into the lyrics of the hymns. As the project grew, I found myself using the typing time to ponder. Typing on the typewriter is a slow, deliberate process. It requires full concentration of body and mind. But even though it required a lot of me, it also freed up a part of my mind in a way I haven't experienced before. 
The year 2020 required a lot from all of us. I am glad this daily bit of art and meditation was part of it.