Every October, the Interprovincial Board of Communication receives hundreds of cases of the Moravian Daily Texts from its printer in Michigan. But shepherding each year’s Daily Texts from watchwords drawn more than two years before in Herrnhut to the printed—and now digital—publication used by many North American Moravians takes the IBOC team nearly a year to bring to fruition.
Renee Schoeller, communications assistant at the IBOC in Bethlehem, handles much of the work involved with preparing the Texts. This month, she shares the process in her own words.
When I began working with the IBOC as communications assistant last year, I walked right into the thick of the proofreading process for the 2014 Moravian Daily Texts. It was certainly an overwhelming part of the Daily Texts process to begin at, as it’s the part that moves the fastest, but I was well-prepared for it. As a publications intern with the IBOC in the summer of 2012, I had some responsibility proofreading the 2013 Daily Texts. That previous experience in proofreading the Daily Texts was, and still is, an invaluable resource for me to fall back on.
What I didn’t learn as an intern, or in my first couple months on the job, was how the Daily Texts is actually constructed and where all the pieces come from. Following the completion of the 2014 edition, I finally received the opportunity to build the Daily Texts piece by piece into the book that we are all familiar with. The 2015 Daily Texts is the first edition that I have personally worked all the way through—compiling, working with writers, editing and proofreading.
A list of days
The process begins with a simple list of months and days; this is the initial framework of the Daily Texts. Once this outline is set up, other pieces are set into it to make it function. The Bible reading plan—designed to help Daily Texts readers to read the Psalms in one year and the whole Bible in two years—is the first thing that I set into the framework, skipping over Sundays. Sundays receive verses from the Moravian Common Lectionary and are outside of the Bible reading plan. Sunday watchwords for the week are also based on the lectionary cycle and are not chosen by lot as I had originally assumed.
In November, the IBOC receives the watchwords—chosen by lot in a ceremony more than two years earlier—from Germany, which have been translated from their original German into English. Our current translator, Erdmute Frank, works to keep as true to the original German text as possible. Her time and dedication assure that in English we can derive the same meaning and experience the same feeling from reading the Daily Texts as our Brothers and Sisters who are reading the German version. And as there are many further translations that are made from this English translation, it is important to make sure that those translations also match the original German as closely as possible. We are truly all worshiping together when we read these words!
Around the time that we receive translated verses from Germany, the IBOC staff gets together to discuss potential writers for the Daily Texts. We try to gather a wide selection of Moravians—lay, clergy, young, old, Northern Province, Southern Province, men and women. I love receiving positive responses when reaching out to people to invite them to be part of this ministry. I enjoy working with our writers as they take on quite possibly the most important role in the Daily Texts creation; their careful, Spirit-led selection of hymns and their written prayers have the potential to impact the faith journeys of so many people.
When invitations to write are accepted, I send the framework for each individual month to the assigned writers. While I am sending materials to our English writers, I am also sending complete English manuscripts to translators around the world.
At the spring meeting of the IBOC, the members of the board of directors select the cover art for the coming year’s edition. Over the past several years, the board has had a broad range of options to choose from, each with the potential to give the book its full-color cover. For 2015, the board selected an image that features the stained glass seal at Fairview Moravian Church in Winston-Salem to grace this year’s cover.
In mid-February, writers send me their completed months and I begin editing. As lead editor and compiler of the Daily Texts, I find that editing the prayers is the most rewarding part of the process. Our writers put so much thought and love into their prayers, and as I edit them, I am hopeful that they will help our readers to build a greater connection with God. Editing is kept to a minimum—we want to ensure that the prayers maintain the thoughts, feelings and voice of their writers.
Once editorial is complete, I add the hymns that our writers selected to accompany each Daily Texts verse and their prayers to the framework, completing the rough draft of the Daily Texts. We check the hymns for meter and line length; in addition, we sometimes need to replace a hymn if it’s been used elsewhere or has a copyright conflict. The completed Texts are then reviewed prior to sending this draft on to create the book.
Designing the book
In May we send the rough draft to the designer who sets each day on a page and formats it to look like the book with which we are familiar. Over the next several months, we go through primary and secondary proofs of each of the four printed versions of the Daily Texts before we send the files to the printer. The printer also sends a proof to the IBOC for approval before printing the full volume of books.
In October, the IBOC sees that full volume at our doors when we receive thousands of books. We devote several weeks to shipping the books to our preorder customers following the arrival of the Daily Texts. The shipping process, while hectic, is a lot of fun and allows the IBOC to spend more time together building closer relationships while being physically involved in our ministry.
Once the books are shipped, we take some down time, regroup, attend to different projects around the office and then… we begin all over again. I’m eagerly looking forward to getting the 2015 edition into the hands of our readers and I’m humbled to have been a part of the creation of this devotional that means so much to so many people.
You can order the 2015 Moravian Daily Texts directly from the IBOC. The Daily Texts are available in paperback, hardcover, large print and journal editions and should be available for immediate shipping in late October. To learn more, visit store.moravian.org or call 1.800.732.0591, ext. 38.
If you prefer a digital copy, the 2015 Moravian Daily Texts will be available for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iBooks in early November. Visit those online stores and search for “Moravian Daily Texts.”
Did you know you can receive the Daily Texts each morning by e-mail?
While this is not a new service from the IBOC, we have joined with a new provider to make the Daily Texts e-mails more consistent and efficient to make sure that you receive your word from God every morning.
You can sign up from the Moravian.org home-page by clicking the envelope under the Daily Texts module that says “Receive Daily by E-mail,” or by directly following this link.