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16th February 2021

An online training tool for ordinands, launched by the Prayer Book Society (PBS) four
years ago, is proving popular with theological college students and parish clergy who
are using the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) for the first time.

‘The Prayer Book is proving to be something of a revelation for theological students
whose families were not churchgoers or, if they were, attended services using only
contemporary forms of service, such as Common Worship,’ explains John Service,
the PBS churches and clergy co-ordinator.

He reports that growing numbers of clergy and ordinands are making use of the eight
free half-hour YouTube videos produced by the Prayer Book Society to guide those
unfamiliar with the Book of Common Prayer when required to conduct its most
popular services.

The videos are available in two formats: one has a spoken commentary explaining
the practicalities of conducting the services; the other has no commentary, allowing
viewers to concentrate on the wording used in Prayer Book services.

They embrace Holy Communion, Morning Prayer (or Matins) and Evening Prayer (or
Evensong) as well as baptism, marriage and funeral services.

The Rev Andrew Birks, priest in charge of two West Sussex benefices – Chidham as
well as Funtington with West Stoke and Sennicotts – discovered the training videos
while researching the way to conduct a BCP service for the first time during

He said: ‘I had never conducted a BCP Communion service before but found the
videos informative, easy to follow and helpful.’

The training aids available from the PBS were praised also by the Rev Fergus Butler-
Gallie whose ministry currently is at the London church of Holy Trinity with St Saviour
in Upper Chelsea.

He said: ‘The PBS was ahead of the curve and their films of BCP services have been
a wonderful help for all of those navigating an online world in recent months as well
as for clergy at the start of their ministry.’

Also in West Sussex, Fr Ian Edgar, assistant curate of three churches – St
Symphorian’s Durrington, St Andrew’s West Tarring and St Richard’s Maybridge –
first used the BCP while a theological college student in Canada.

‘We were required to prepare a mock liturgy and I chose the Holy Communion
service in the Book of Common Prayer,’ he explains. ‘I found the PBS Holy
Communion video most helpful. It was clear and well filmed, the sound quality was
good and as it showed multiple angles it was helpful to see what was situated where
and when during the service.’

He added: ‘The narrated version of the video explains what is happening and why,
making it all the easier for those watching to be able to adapt the liturgy to the
specific context in which they find themselves.’

Theological students have praised the training films, too.

Robyn Golden-Hann, a second-year ordinand at Sarum College in Salisbury, who
describes herself as ‘one who has not grown up with the Book of Common Prayer,’
reports that ‘the PBS instructional videos on YouTube have proved a very valuable

She said: ‘The narrated videos thoughtfully take the viewer through various Prayer
Book services at a steady and even pace in real-time. Each is produced to a high
professional standard with thoughtful interjections which helpfully clarify many of the
finer points of BCP worship which may otherwise be unclear to the uninitiated.’

Robyn added: ‘It's always easy to take for granted what we know and to forget that
those who are unfamiliar with one's own style of churchmanship may find it
confusing. That’s why these instructions are a welcome addition to the teaching
resources available to ordinands exploring BCP worship, and a testament to the
PBS's vision in producing a simple yet practical attempt to reach a new audience of
future worshippers.’

The videos, which can be viewed on the PBS website at, are
spoken without music so that greater emphasis can be given to the wording in the
Book of Common Prayer. However, suggestions are made at points where hymns or
other music might be incorporated into the liturgy.

To contact the Prayer Book Society’s office at The Studio, Copyhold Farm, Lady
Grove, Goring Heath, Reading RG8 7RT, call 0118 984 2582, email or visit

The Book of Common Prayer can be something of a revelation for theological
students who previously have attended only services in which contemporary forms of
service are used, explains the PBS churches and clergy co-ordinator John Service

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