Annotated Bibliography of Mennonite Hymnals and Songbooks, 1742-1986 (Monograph)

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Cover of Annotated Bibliography of Mennonite Hymnals and Songbooks: 1742–1986.

Ressler, Martin E. An Annotated Bibliography of Mennonite Hymnals and Songbooks: 1742-1986. Quarryville, PA: Published privately by Alma Ressler, 1987. 117pp, blue cloth over boards. 21.5 x 13.8 cm.

This bibliography lists 193 hymnbooks, songbooks, and books about singing. They are almost all from the author’s own extensive collection and represent the works that would be employed in the churches, singing schools, and in Pennsylvania Mennonite community recreation events.

Martin E. Ressler (1922-1987) in his brief introduction states that "this bibliography is an attempt to accurately compile a chronological record of all hymnals and songbooks published by the (Old) Mennonite Church of North America" up to its publication date of 1987. It describes the published hymnals and many ancillary works both authorized and unofficial of the five largest Mennonite denominations of Ressler’s extended community in Pennsylvania. After the "In Memory" section by Amos B. Hoover and "Introduction" and "Acknowledgements" is the bibliography in five parts:

  • Part 1: Hymnals and Songbooks Published by the (Old) Mennonite Church listing 85 works;
  • Part 2: Songbooks By and For the Old Order and Beachy Amish listing 35 works;
  • Part 3: Hymnals Published by the Reformed Mennonite Church listing 7 works;
  • Part 4: Hymnals and Songbooks Published by the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite listing 25 works;
  • Part 5: Music Related Publications listing 41 more works.

Each entry contains the date of first edition or American printing, a brief title, and a lettered code defining: hymnal, private publication, supplemental songbook, Ressler’s personal music library, or Goshen College Library. This is followed by the author or editors if any, the complete text on the title page, place and publisher, date again, pagination, and page height. Ressler adds significant information about the hymnal, its use and publishing history, sometimes with his own observation, and use of the work in worship and in music education. This information makes the bibliography very personal and interesting. Finally there is a listing of reprints and a listing of copies held in his personal music library which was very extensive. There are no indexes.

Of the publications listed only one, the Ausbund, was published in the 18th century, 37 in the 19th century, and the rest, 155, in the 20th century. The number of editions and printings is bewilderingly large and difficult to determine, though Ressler gives considerable information on them. Every denomination and congregation needed a hymnal for worship. However, differences in their publications seem to define differences between these congregations and denominations. Ressler describes the attempt in 1803 to compile the first American hymnal, which led to the publication of two different hymnals. He points out the demand congregations and individuals made for shaped or round music notation, demand for German or English in lyrics, and for the inclusion of many varieties of supplementary songs in special printings of established hymnals. These differences led printers to issue the perplexing number of hymnal variations to meet the diverse requests of congregations. The listing chronologically demonstrates changes and transitions in many denominations; for example, the transition from the German language to English and the possible future changes with the inclusion of one Spanish language hymnal.

Marten E. Ressler’s extensive music library and his personal papers are deposited in the Archives of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA.


Author(s) Victor G Wiebe
Date Published November 2014


Cite This Article

MLA style

Wiebe, Victor G. "Annotated Bibliography of Mennonite Hymnals and Songbooks, 1742-1986 (Monograph)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2014. Web. 26 May 2019. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Annotated_Bibliography_of_Mennonite_Hymnals_and_Songbooks,_1742-1986_(Monograph)&oldid=130830.

APA style

Wiebe, Victor G. (November 2014). Annotated Bibliography of Mennonite Hymnals and Songbooks, 1742-1986 (Monograph). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2019, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Annotated_Bibliography_of_Mennonite_Hymnals_and_Songbooks,_1742-1986_(Monograph)&oldid=130830.




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