BERLIN — One of the great treasures of Amish heritage will be on display next week at the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center.
Marcus Yoder, curator of the center, has teamed up with Goshen College and the Mennonite Historical Library to bring the only known copy of the first edition of the Ausbund to Berlin. It will be on display at 7:30 p.m. April 30.
“This is the oldest continually used hymnal in the world (used by the Amish),” Yoder said, “and we’re bringing it here to the center for a one-night event."
It was published in 1564.
“We have quite a number of rare hymnals, Bibles and other books that have impacted the Amish and Mennonite world on display here at the center,” Yoder added.
He shared some historical information about the Ausbund.
“For more than 450 years, the Ausbund has been a significant source of spiritual enrichment for Anabaptists and their descendants,” he said. “The first known edition of part of the Ausbund, printed in 1564, was titled “Etliche schöne christliche Gesang, wie sie in der Gefengkniss zu Passaw im Schloss von den Schweitzer Brüdern durch Gottes Gnad geticht und gesungen worden.”
It contained 53 hymns, 51 of which are included in modern editions of the Ausbund. The only known copy of the 1564 edition was bound about 1700 together with several other later song pamphlets.
“In 1928 this volume was discovered in a rare book shop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,” Yoder said. “Harold S. Bender purchased it for Goshen’s Mennonite Historical Library. The library recently had the entire volume carefully cleaned and restored so that future generations can continue to experience and enjoy it.”
Also on the agenda for the evening, Joe Springer will give a short presentation on the Ausbund.
Springer has been the curator at the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, for over 30 years. Trained as a librarian and historian, he enjoys pursuing information related to the printing history and distribution of Anabaptist-Mennonite works. He also has done considerable research in family history, and has published a two-volume sourcebook of documents and genealogical data for Amish Mennonites in France and their North American descendants titled 'Montbeliard Mennonite Church Register, 1750-1958.'”
In addition to the exhibit of the Ausbund, there will be other editions of the Ausbund that are historically significant on display that evening.
“There will also be several reproduction copies of the 1564 edition that the public can handle and touch to understand the value of this edition.,” Yoder said. “We anticipate singing several short selections from the Ausbund together in the Mural Hall to remind us of the power of these songs.”
Yoder expects a large crowd, so reservations are requested. He said that each year, the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center likes to have a spring event and a fall event.
“Last year we did an event that focused on the Yutzy muzzle-loading rifles, which were made in the second half of 1800s,” he said. “We had about 250 people here and it was successful. We expect even more people for this event.”
For more information or to make a reservation, call the center, 5798 County Road 77, at 330-893-3192, or email email@example.com.