Producing the North American Daily Texts
As with all Daily Texts, the North American version begins in Herrnhut, Germany. We receive the Losungen from the German office in the summer and send it to a translator for our North American English purposes. We require an actual English translation of the German text because of the differing Bible verses in each translation. For example, a watchword drawn from Daniel 3:33 in the German Bible does not exist in English translations: the wording is found in Daniel 4:10. The essential concern is that the text is correctly translated so that readers around the world will share identical devotional material on any given day.
When I receive the English version of the Losungen, I then formulate the Scriptures for the year. The North American versions include Scripture references that, when followed, allow all the Psalms to be read through in one year and the entire Bible in two.
The texts from Germany are commonly referred to as the Watchword and Doctrinal Texts by many English readers. Once compiled with the Scripture references, they are sent for initial copyediting — one great rule in the editing world is always use a second set of eyes! When the project returns and corrections are made, this skeleton form is then sent to translators around the Moravian Unity, molding our framework into the some of the 50 languages into which the Daily Texts is printed every year.
While translating and initial editing are underway, writers from across North America are identified to assume responsibility for one month of the Daily Texts. Using the translated daily Watchwords and Doctrinal Texts as their themes, these writers choose hymn stanzas and compose prayers appropriate for each day of their month.
Writers, who represent both clergy and lay people, reflect many ages and backgrounds and represent the diversity within the Moravian Church.
When these writers have finished their task and return their work to me, I begin the compilation process. As one can imagine, combining many Moravian ideas to create a cohesive devotional text is not an easy process. We contract additional expertise to help with hymn substitutions (for repeated hymns, etc.), research copyrights and then determine the appropriate meter of how each hymn is presented. The prayers are given a small amount of editing for content, inclusive language and consistency but for the most part are run intact to preserve the thought and emotion of the writer.
Then the design and editing stages begin. Since the Daily Texts come in multiple versions — soft cover, hardcover, large print, journal and flip calendar — each needs to be reviewed for layout and content.
Editing is perhaps the longest step in the process and the most important. Steeped in tradition and serving as a devotional staple for many, the accuracy of the Daily Texts is a Moravian essential.
From the design and editing stage, the final project is sent to the printer, usually in the beginning of August. The entire process culminates with the autumn delivery to our small office in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania of 10 to 12 pallets of the books many of you hold in your hands every day. They are shipped all over the world and into both Moravian and non-Moravian households.
I believe what makes the Daily Texts project my favorite is its unity. Having a hand in the rich history and yearly creation of what is the most widely used devotional in our Christian church, aside from the Bible, is an honor and one I am grateful for every year I have worked and experienced the love within the Moravian Church. ■Siobhan Young is Communications Assistant at the Interprovincial Board of Communication.
Related articles:An introduction to the Daily TextsHow to Use The Daily Text
New Every Morning: A History of the Daily Texts