When I describe the work of the Interprovincial Board of Communication, I typically start with “publish The Moravian Magazine,” followed by “run the moravian.org website,” “produce books about the church and its faith,” and “provide communications counsel to ministries and congregations.” But our most visible work is the annual production of the North American editions of the
By this time of the year, we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of more than 15,000 copies of the Daily Texts in four different formats. Our writers completed their work more than seven months ago. In the time since, the IBOC team compiled, edited and reviewed the copy; worked with our designer to lay out the books; proofed each edition carefully; then sent the project off to the printer in Michigan.
One of my favorite parts of the Daily Texts process (other than reading the hymn selections and insightful prayers of our writers) is finding and selecting a cover. In previous years, the only big decision about the cover was what color it was going to be. For the first time in 2001, a full color image was selected for the hardcover and journal editions; meanwhile, the softcover and large print versions used a single-color cover.
Then, for the 2012 edition—the first Daily Texts that I would oversee from start to finish—we decided to try a full-color cover on all four editions. This required finding an appropriate image that would define the whole range of books for that year. For 2012, we chose a colorful stained-glass image; for 2013, we selected another glass image, this time of the cross in the center of our Moravian seal.
So many opportunities presented themselves when developing the cover for the 2014 edition. I combed through images that I had taken over the past year and a half that offered possibilities…stained glass, nature scenes, religious subjects, even pictures of past Daily Texts. All would work, but I wanted something more.
One idea was to try abstract close-ups of the religious paintings at the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth. The Whitefield House’s collection of paintings by noted Moravian painter John Valentine Haidt would provide plenty of opportunities…or so I thought. Unfortunately, after an hour of finding and photographing colorful sections of the paintings, nothing was working for me. Most of the Haidt paintings in the Whitefield’s collection had very somber themes and the colors weren’t what I was after.
As I looked around at the beautiful Moravian artifacts at the Whitefield House museum, I began to see intriguing possibilities. I trained my camera on the pipes of their 1776 Tannenberg organ, the mechanism from an original church clock, an iron casting from 1756, paintings of Moravian historical figures and other interesting pieces in their collection.
When I added the images from the Whitefield House to the ones I was already considering, I found I had nearly a dozen really good possibilities. To help visualize how these images would work, I made mock-ups of each image in the format of a Daily Texts cover, printed them out in color and wrapped leftover 2012 paperback Daily Texts with the potential designs.
I shared these with the IBOC staff, my co-workers in the Moravian Church Center, even my wife and daughter at home. While this helped me edit the list somewhat, I still found I had too many good options. It would be up to the members of the IBOC meeting at Laurel Ridge in April to make the decision.
During breaks in our discussions, IBOC board members gathered around the collected mock-ups and pondered the possibilities. After several spirited rounds of weeding and editing, discussing the merits and potentials of each, the board made their selection: the close up of a cast iron stove plate.
The staff at the Whitefield House provided this description: “A cast iron stove plate was assembled with four or nine other plates to make a boxlike metal heating stove. The side plates could be very decorative, sometimes including the year they were cast and the furnace which made them.
“This unusual plate contains only half of a German inscription that says, ‘das Jahr darin wütet’, which translates to say, ‘This is the year in which rages.’ The rest of the inscription, found on the companion plate, adds ‘the Indian war party.’ The plate refers to the attacks on local settlers during the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania.
“The stove plate measures 26 ½” high by 28” wide. The designs are hearts and tulips. It is dated 1756.”
The design of the plate translated perfectly to the cover of the Daily Texts. We’re quite pleased with the way it turned out and are looking forward to seeing them completed. Many thanks to Megan van Ravenswaay and the staff at the Moravian Historical Society for permission to use the image. Be sure to visit the Whitefield House when you get a chance.
In hindsight, any of the potentials we had for this year would have made a good cover. Members of the IBOC joked that we now have covers set for the next five years at least! However, I keep my eyes open for new potentials throughout the year and welcome suggestions for other possibilities.
By the time you read this, our completed books will be on their way to us from Michigan. The IBOC team will be working from mid-October through early November to pack and ship these books to readers across the continent and in some cases around the world. And these brand new books will have a cover that’s more than 250 years old!
Mike Riess is executive director of the Interprovincial Board of Communication Photo above: Just a few of the options considered for the cover of the 2014 Moravian Daily Texts.
From the October 2013 Moravian Magazine