Arrived: Hong Kong Book of Common Prayer

I have recently taken a look at Hong Kong’s Book of Common Prayer, first printed in 1959 by the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui’s Diocese of Hong Kong and Macau and reïssued in 1998, with no textual changes to the services, by the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. This BCP looks fascinating, and I hope to share some of its distinctive features here.

For one thing, the order of Holy Communion, while clearly in the classical Prayer Book tradition, does not match the English (1662), Scottish (1764, 1912, 1929), or American (1789, 1892, 1928) types; likewise the orders of daily Morning and Evening Prayer. In general, the regular services seem to stand somewhat between the English and American types, with a few characteristics seen in neither.

Compline, often included in books of additional services but not part of either the English BCP (1662) or the American (1928), has made its way into the Hong Kong BCP.

The greatest difference, perhaps, is in the occasional prayers: to the English BCP’s 19 and the American BCP’s much richer 47, the Hong Kong BCP has 87. This great cloud of prayers and thanksgivings is organized by its own table of contents.

As expected in a society that is by and large not Christian, baptisms of such as are of riper years take priority over baptisms of infants, a priority reflected by the former’s appearing before the latter. Similarly, between the Catechism and order of Confirmation appears a section acquainting the reader with the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui’s mission, history, and practices.

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The Athanasian Creed, also known in the West as Quicunque vult, is given the alternate name of Sacred Text of Salvation. A rubric also declares, ‘To this Sacred Text of Salvation ought every believer to attend: some of the principles it expresses are very deep, but are in no wise contrary to Scripture.’ A second rubric says that this sacred text may be used at Morning Prayer on all the holy days listed in the English BCP – except, very curiously, Trinity Sunday itself. The days listed in the Hong Kong BCP, then, are the following: Christmas-Day, the Epiphany, Saint Matthias, Easter-Day, Ascension-Day, Whit-Sunday, Saint John Baptist, Saint James, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Matthew, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, and Saint Andrew. The text is kept whole and undefiled: ‘Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he keep the principle of the Holy Catholic Church. Which faith whosoever keep not wholly, or keep not straightly, must suffer everlastingly the bitterness of sinking unto perdition.’

The Psalter is not included (the expectation being that the psalms will be read from the Bible), but there is a table of proper psalms for many days in the year. Similarly, there is a table of proper lessons. There seems, however, not to be a daily ordering of psalms or a daily kalendar of lessons.

God willing, I shall post more details later, when I have the time.

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