Upcycle the Blue Hymnal: Epiphany Activities

Of all the stuff I've written over the years, including a number of very popular pieces, one post leaves the rest in the dust: the one I wrote about making new things out of the "old" Presbyterian hymnal. Whoa! Here's what I wrote:

If and when we find a new home for our old hymnals, there will be some random extras that are in such poor condition that they can’t be passed along. I myself have 2 or 3 hymnals floating around my house and study, and they are not fit to donate.

So… how about upcycling the copies that have lived a good life and are ready for some transformation? Old sheet music is beautiful and historic and a lovely material to work with. It’s good stewardship to give these old books new life.

My first post offered five Advent/Christmas related activities, and at least one congregation incorporated my ideas into their programming. Cool!

I said at the time that I'd offer suggestions for other liturgical seasons as well. The rest of the year pales in comparison to Advent/Christmas for sheer craftiness. But I'm up for a challenge!

Epiphany is now upon us: the season of light, in which we remember the magi's visit to the Christ child, Jesus' baptism, and the early moments of Jesus' ministry. Here are a few ways to use old falling-apart hymnals to reinforce these stories:

Epiphany Wreath

Walls and doors can feel pretty bare once the Christmas decorations come down. So how about an epiphany wreath? This one is inspired by the story of the wise ones following a star to find the Christ child:

Upcycle the Blue Hymnal: Epiphany Activities

I think some kind of sturdy ring shape (posterboard or foam core) with stars glued to it would do the trick.


Epiphany Candle

Another option for the season of light: a candle holder using pages of epiphany hymns:

Upcycle the Blue Hymnal: Epiphany Activities

You need a jar, pages from the hymnal, ribbon or hemp string for the top, and a tea light. You might use a star shape as a cut-out instead of a heart. It's not clear to me from the picture, but it looks like the pages are inside the jar? Maybe an electric tea light would be better.


Epiphany Poems

This is a repeat from Advent, but it's such a neat activity that it would work in any season:

Upcycle the Blue Hymnal: Epiphany Activities

This is a craft and a contemplative activity rolled into one—great for a prayer gathering. Take a favorite epiphany hymn (or maybe a non-favorite) and read through it for words or phrases you might string together to make a new poem. Circle those words and doodle the rest of the page as shown.


Baptism of the Lord Ornament

This coming Sunday we will hear the story of Jesus' baptism, in which the Spirit descends on him like a dove. How about a dove decoration?

Upcycle the Blue Hymnal: Epiphany Activities

Here's a screen shot of the pattern. Just print it out to be the right size for the hymnal page and you're good to go. The wings go in a slit in the bird's back, and the tail feathers through a slot as shown in the picture.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 4.09.26 PM

What other possibilities can you think of?


Yes, most of this stuff comes from Pinterest.  You can follow me there. Lots more hymnal crafts in addition to quotes I like, running stuff, and more slowcooker recipes than you can shake a slotted spoon at.

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Advent Crafts, Field Tested: This One Made My Day

Nathan Proctor, Associate Director of Music at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, sends the following message that made my day:

I was inspired by your blog post on creative ways to up-cycle the blue hymnal. I lead a children’s choir of around 30 first and second graders and yesterday we created ornaments from pages from the old hymnal.

The children had a great time working on this project- there was lots of singing in the room as they looked at the Christmas songs. We let them choose their favorite Christmas or Advent song to use on their ornament- lots of requests for Away in a Manger and Go Tell it on the Mountain. They even thought about important words they would like to have showing.

Emphasis mine. This is exactly what I had in mind, and I could not be more thrilled to read this message.


They loved the project! I plan to tie on some ribbon and include a note to their parents telling where the music came from before sending them home on the first Wednesday in December.

It was a really happy, joyful project! It was such a sweet time with the kids that I wanted to email you right away today to thank you for the fun idea.

Thank you for the great suggestions and ideas!

What can I say, Nathan? Thank you so kindly. And check out the children's handiwork:




The only downside is that I'm totally in the Christmas spirit and it's not even Thanksgiving yet...  ;-)