The Book Thief

Here is a photo of the book I stole:


I was ten years old and due to leave my primary school for secondary school.  This was the only thing I couldn’t bear to leave behind (since my friends were all coming to secondary school too).  Ironic, don’t you think, that it’s a hymn book?  Already feeling a victim of God’s sublime sense of humour, I just noticed, as I was taking this photo, that the Scripture reading is the one the priest chose for my baptism last year.

As you can see in the photo I didn’t choose a pristine copy.  This was not a spur-of-the-moment theft, this was pre-meditated larceny.  As in “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, the custodian of this book may very well have let me have it if I had asked, seeing my desperate need, but I didn’t ask.  I chose the most raggedy copy I could find, reasoning that the school ought to replace it anyway.  In this way it didn’t feel like theft.  I was doing the school a favour in fact!

And why couldn’t I bear to part with this book?  It wasn’t the scripture.  It was just that I couldn’t imagine leaving behind the songs.  I’ve always had a deep love of music, and I was always trying to learn to play different instruments.  As a ten-year-old though, all I had access to was a recorder (which used to be the standard instrument in Welsh schools, as the tin whistle is here in Ireland) and my own voice.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a particularly good singing voice and I was also terribly shy.  When I played recorder on the school stage I would mime because I was too nervous to play properly.  I even mimed in the school choir when we competed in the Urdd Eisteddfod.  But that didn’t stop me playing in private.  Often when I sang, and later when I played my electronic keyboard, it would move me to tears.  It connected me to some higher reality, something I was missing in my life, something which I now suspect was of the heavenly variety.

Two of my favourite Welsh songs are about singing.  There’s “Calon Lan” which I’ve featured on my blog before, and there’s what I’ve always called “Canaf yn y bore” (see photo below).  My Welsh is incredibly rusty so I’m using Google Translate here.  It seems to think the first verse means “I sing in the morning for your care, through the dark walnut. You have seen me.” but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong.  😀  It’s definitely about singing in the morning anyway.


Here’s the tune:


Posted on September 11, 2017, in Christianity, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. ahh a spirit after my own heart! I am currently reading the book, The Book Thieves—about the Nazi looting of the books from the libraries and personal collections across Europe during the war and the current recovery effort to sort through the millions of books hidden away and recovered with the attempt of trying to perhaps reunite families with family treasures—
    And I confess that I too have a pilfered copy of a hymnal. I got mine when the Episcopal church was “updating” its hymnal so I decided that they’d be chucking the “old” copies and I couldn’t imagine how an update could make these hymns any better so I best get an “original” while I still could…oh the rationalizing of a thief….
    and like you, the music of the church has always spoken deeply to my soul.
    I don’t play an instrument and can’t sing even in a bucket, but that’s never stopped me from joyously sining the hymns.
    That is the one thing I miss from a regal attendance of church and of the church where I’d grown up.
    I still sing them—throughout the day, in the shower, you name it….or I’ll take my old copy off the book shelf, turning the brittle little pages and find what I’m looking for and sing here in the house with no one but the cats 🙂

    Thank you for sharing a marvelous tale Sarah!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Sarah! This is such touching, and tender testimony to God’s grace and mercy for His little ones. He turned petty larceny to love, because He all He saw was a heart longing for Him. No worries about taking the book, God forgave “the good thief” and opened paradise to him. Beautiful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Patricia, for that lovely reflection. I think you’re right. 🙂
      I find it hard to express the wonderful love that the Lord has shown me so I’m glad you were able to see some of that in this post.
      God bless you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, if you are going to steal something, might as well be something worth while!!!! LOL!!!! I don’t think God will hold it against you. The story you shared with us about it I am sure is “penance enough!” 🙂 It is beautiful and so worth the read. God Bless, SR

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are forgiven. No one owns the words of Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Also, the Bible has no copyright. Seems Gods does not care if anyone plagiarizes or uses the words for private or public gain. Last year I gave myself a writing task. Some days wrote a page, sometimes nothing, other times two or three pages, took a break, etc. Took eleven months. Filled five spiral notebook binders. I hand wrote the entire New Testament. I am closer now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We grew up stealing alcohol because we were underage, but later moved onto books bc we fell in love with reading; your story reminds me of my childhood lol. Thank you.


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