Press Update: Spring, 2022

As the Great Fast hovers just below the horizon, so also does the joy of Pascha and the promise of spring. Already, the lakes that have offered so much enjoyment this winter by way of skating have thawed, and green is starting to find the courage to appear. Doubtless, a big snow or two will yet dampen our hope, but this despair will be fleeting.

At the Press, editorial plows and hoes are upturning the soil of several current projects. With a few final tweaks on the cover, White Lilies will finally be ready to send to print. The final volume of Sing to Your Soul has been typeset, we are editing volumes I and II to make the series internally consistent before printing all three. The Psalter is nearing completion. A few months ago, the editors asked a select group of scholars and experts in the field of linguistics, liturgics, and scriptural translations to provide them with feedback. They are currently working through the suggestions and hope to present a final manuscript sometime this summer. Once it receives final approval, our first priority is to be able to incorporate it into several other publications that are currently on hold: a re-print of the Funeral & Panikhida, a Horologion, and Holy Week services. A print edition (in both analogion and pocket-size) will also be made available as soon as possible.

A few longer term projects that we will be working on throughout the coming months are: John the Damascene, by Alexei Tolstoy. We recently commissioned a talented artist to produce a series of illustrations that will serve to augment the narrative. These are expected to reach completion by July 1, at which point we can finalize the typeset and send it to print. The North American Thebaid, by Ralph Sidway, continues to progress toward completion. We are working in captions and texts at present. The Great Book of Needs, volume one is being painstakingly re-translated and edited. The amount of work involved in this project will likely prohibit it from appearing this year, but likely by Great Lent, 2023, with the remaining volumes appearing in the two years following.

Over this past year, I have been working on a fascinating study of Paul Zaichenko (1873–1961), who served as St. Alexis's first choir director in Minneapolis, and later taught piano at the Chicago Conservatory. The book will explore his life, his writings, and compositions in the context of the "Russian Craze" that occurred in the Untied States at the end of the 19th century. Substantial editing is still necessary, but it is reasonable to hope that publication might occur late this year.

Tangential to my research, I have been reading much about and by William Morris (1834–1896). For anyone who possesses a tendency—as I do—to value the old over the new, the beautiful over the convenient, the archaic over the well defined, William Morris is a kindred spirit. The best resource that I have found on his life is a comprehensive study by J.W. Mackail, published in 1899. Relative to my work at the Press, I have been particularly interested in Morris's approach to design and typography as exhibited by his books published under the Kelmscott Press colophon. More in general, I have been reflecting on the value Morris places on the designer as craftsman. Morris (inspired by John Ruskin) wished to eliminate the division between the abstract design and its tangible execution—that is, the division of labor of modern industrialism. For this purpose, Morris revived many handicrafts that were in danger of being lost in Victorian England. Such efforts have made me reconsider the "abstract design" in which the Press currently engages, a process that is often disconnected by many thousands of miles from the actual production of the books we publish. It has renewed my interest in finding a way to lessen the gap between design and production. Whenever possible, we employ our local print shop—separated by a mere ten miles—to produce our books. I enjoy going into the print shop and seeing the machines and the operators at work, it makes me feel marginally closer to the "incarnation" of ideas on physical paper. Perhaps, in the future the Press can produce limited editions of books printed and bound completely by the hands of their designers. Morris has certainly given much food for such thoughts.

In a final snippet of news: we just received word that three titles—Service Book for the Faithful, Orthodox Christian Prayers, and Hieratikon, vol. II—completed their voyage across the Pacific ocean and will make their way here to our monastery in the next week or so. We have quite a few pre-orders, but once these are completed, we will remove the 10 item limit on the Service Book for the Faithful. Thank you for your patience.

Wishing you good strength for Great Lent and a joyous Pascha!

Fr. Mikel Hill—Managing Editor
STM Press