During the first national lockdown, an English cathedral approached the Prayer Book Society with a request for copies of the Book of Common Prayer for their junior choristers to use at home. The Trustees were delighted to hear that the cathedral’s precentor was using lockdown as an opportunity to teach the choristers about the Prayer Book, and the content and structure of Evensong in particular, using videos and Zoom.
Of course, we would be pleased to donate some Prayer Books to the cathedral in question, but we wanted to do more than that. A small working group was formed—including the precentor who first approached us—and Prayer Books for Choristers was conceived.
The aim of this new initiative is simple: to present a special edition of the Prayer Book, together with a copy of the Teen Guide to the BCP, commissioned by the PBS in 2020, to every junior chorister in cathedrals, college chapels and parish churches across the country.
In the early stages, we approached a number of cathedral clergy, parish priests and church musicians to get their thoughts on this initiative: their reaction to the proposal was entirely positive and enthusiastic. One clergyman told us that he first came to love the Prayer Book as a junior chorister; it had been with him as he grew into adult discipleship, and had influenced his call to ordained ministry.
We want today’s junior choristers (of whom there are around five thousand in the UK) to have the same experience. We want a new generation to find in the Prayer Book not only a collection of services, but also a treasury of private prayer and a handbook for the Christian life. We want the BCP to be a trusty companion as they mature and grow in the knowledge and love of God.
The proposed special enlarged edition Prayer Book will carry the PBS logo on the cover and a glossary of Prayer Book terms will be bound into it. This new edition will be known as the ‘Grantchester Edition’ in recognition of a legacy gift from a member of the Society, the late Betty, Lady Grantchester. With the agreement of members of her family, her legacy is being used to launch the Prayer Books for Choristers fund.
Now we appeal to the generosity of our members to help us raise a further £30,000 to bring the project to life. Could you make a Jubilee gift to the Society in support of this exciting initiative? Donations can be made online via the Prayer Book Society website (please put CHORISTERS in the ‘reason for donation’ field). Your generous support will be very gratefully received.