What A Day It Was!

Did you know that one of the greatest benefactors to the protestant Reformation was a man by the name of John Day?  Born while Henry VIII was king, John Day became, neither preacher nor politician … but a printer at the age of 22 during the reign of 16th century King Edward who was a Protestant.   John Day was the leading publisher of Protestant materials in London and Edward commissioned him at age 30 to publish Poynet’s Protestant catechism.  Alas, Edward was followed on the throne by his Catholic step-sister “Bloody Mary” and the honor which Edward gave him made him a “marked man”.    All of Day’s best authors were burned at the stake and he himself was imprisoned for a time before he managed to escape to Europe.  In Europe he travelled extensively, learned much about the new printing methods, and planned for future work.

When Protestant Elizabeth became queen, Day returned to London better equipped than ever. He was the first to print music; to cut, cast, and use Anglo-Saxon type; to introduce mathematical signs; and the first to make Roman and italic types used on the same line as regular print. He included pictures (woodcuts) in his books. And he was the first to print smaller sections of the Bible, which he advertised like this: “Printed in sundry parts for these poor, that they which are not able to bie the hole, may bie a part.”

Eventually Day published all of Latimer’s sermons, then Ridley’s “Friendly Farewell.” But his most famous book was John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which went through repeated printings and became the most important book of its “Day” (neat pun).  Business was so good that he needed to move into larger facilitles near St. Paul’s Cathedral. The sign in front of his new shop featured a man pointing to the sun, saying, “Arise, For It Is Day.”   He was a man of many Days, having had 13 children by his first wife and another 13 children by his second.  He died on this date, July 23, in 1583, leaving the business of publishing quality Bibles and Christian material for England and the world in the hands of his son Richard.

I wonder what he would have thought of a Day in which so much publishing is done without paper and ink through the electronic media!