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digital New Zealand Prayer Book

I regularly get asked if A New Zealand Prayer Book (NZPB) is available on a website, like Common Worship, or TEC’s BCP.

There is a Windows program. There is no Mac option, but it runs fine on a Windows emulator such as VMware Fusion on a Mac.

The website states “WePray by LabOra is completely free of charge until July 2011”. It states that “WePray has to be registered online. The programme may be started 30 times or 14 days – whatever is coming first – without being registered.” But no registration box has come up for me, and I cannot see on the program where the registration box should be found. If yours does, the Product Key is 1120-1030-1412. [I’m sorry if you get annoyed that, by LabOra reading this post, they may end up “fixing” the registration fault. Maybe my program will just stop in a fortnight!]

For some reason this 21st century program appears as if it was written as a clunky DOS program at the same time as the Prayer Book (late 80s early 90s last millennium). It even includes clip art. Please: it is a mortal sin to use this clip art. [If you can cope with strong language and wonder why clip art is so last millenium check here. If you have no sense of humour, or are horrified at strong language, just trust me: don’t use the clip art]. I fail to understand why the program just doesn’t have a better look.

A real step forward from NZPB is that much more is available in Tongan, Fijian, Samoan, and Hindi [communities using those languages will have to let me know how much computers are used to prepare liturgies in those communities]. Two options are provided for the readings: NRSV (unacknowledged) and CEV (acknowledged). Psalms are from NZPB. Weekday collects are acknowledged from APBFA (I understand this to be A Prayer Book for Australia?).

Sunday collects are provided from NZPB, with one chosen from the three provided. This means that, for example, on the Second Sunday in Lent the collect is:

Collect (Lent 2 – Pentecost 10:2 ANZPB)
Come Holy Spirit, to all baptised in your name,
that we may turn to good
whatever lies ahead
Give us passion, give us fire;
make us transform the world from what it is,
to what you have created it to be.

Not only does the reference to Pentecost continue to confuse, but we have a collect addressed to the Holy Spirit. I am against any increasing formalising of this.

Every day is provided with a proper preface. [Within our formularies in NZ this may only be used for the prayer of NZPB starting page 420, or 512 – or the TEC equivalent to p512.] The proper preface is called “People of God Advent Opening Prayer for Great Thanksgiving”. I have no idea why the Advent proper preface is being used. So this coming Sunday (Ordinary 6) the program has the collect from Advent 2 and the proper preface for Advent. I also do not know why the proper preface is called an “Opening Prayer for Great Thanksgiving” (try a search for this – the concept is unknown on the internet).

Everything has been chopped into its constituent parts. Every NZPB eucharistic prayer is presented, not in its entirety, but chopped into 12 different Institution Narratives, acclamations, 12 versions of the anamnesis, 12 versions of the epiclesis… This is the way the whole program is constructed. You have an informal greeting, followed by a choice of greetings, followed by sentence of the day, a choice of prayers of preparation for the service, a choice of songs of praise, introductions to confession, invitations to confession, confessions, absolutions, and so on and on it goes…

This may be a wonderful resource for those who have studied liturgy deeply, and are well trained and formed. For others it may produce services that feel like the funny pictures we construct when we can choose different body parts: head of an emu, body of an elephant, legs of a giraffe… In a province which has been so minimalist in liturgical study, training, and formation, I have grave reservations. There is a strong movement abandoning liturgy in the Anglican Church here and, in my experience, it is because they are rightly reacting against the poor quality that they have either experienced or tried, without good formation, to produce themselves. For many this program will be akin to trying to write poetry or a novel using a computer program which provides a choice of article, followed by a choice of adjectives, followed by a choice of nouns, followed by a choice of verbs, followed by a choice of adverbs,…

A program like this has potential. A website would be better. Common Worship‘s site is a good model [and remember most of Common Worship is licit in NZ formularies]. Maybe more than ever before, my book Celebrating Eucharist may be a way to help overcome some of the issues I have highlighted. I would be quite happy to discuss including Celebrating Eucharist on this resource. Other resources beyond A New Zealand Prayer Book have already been included.

Have fun playing round with this – and do add your own reflections.

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26 thoughts on “digital New Zealand Prayer Book”

  1. I look forward to downloading this at work. My request for permission to use the NZPB in worship was returned as “addressee unknown.”

    1. Peter Carrell’s Theology House website (clickable link)

      John, your experience of “addressee unknown” is a different way of expressing my point of “it’s complicated”. Another person received a strong letter when they had placed some of Night Prayer online. I am of the firm conviction that biblical and liturgical copyright should be as generous as possible. On principle.

  2. Hi Bosco and other Christchurch readers
    On Thursday 3rd March there will be two seminars led by Revd Brian Dawson at Theology House. One on We Pray. One on Living Liturgy. Details out this week on the TH e-mail and on our web site. All welcome.

    (I wish our NZPB electronically had gone the route of England …)

  3. I heartily agree on the matter of copyright. TEC placing their BCP in the public domain meant that I could build a BCP app for the platform I use without having to ask anyone’s permission. I dread to think how much bureaucracy might have been involved elsewhere in the world.

    1. I wonder, Thomas, whether the huge amount of money our church spent on this program might have been better spent on regaining full control of the NZPB copyright. Then the NZPB text could have been put into the public domain in the same manner as TEC’s BCP, and NZPB would have been available in a variety of ways just as TEC’s BCP now attractively and usefully is. I have commented similarly on the copyright issue in relation to the much bigger situation with the new English Mass and Psalm translation.

  4. As an iPad owner now, I love the iBCP app. If only there were an iNZPB app!

    This is one of those things that I could pound my head against a tree frequently, if given the opportunity. There is a beauty and simplicity to all our versions of the Prayer Book in the Anglican world. Why would we not want to share them easily in as many forms as possible as a tool to attract people to a Christ-centered life? But we tend to make it cumbersome–both in the use of bulletins/leaflets/hymnals/books at worship–and lack of digital means for outside of worship or preparing worship.

    So the image the newcomer gets is we are confusing and cumbersome, and you need three hands to be Anglican/Episcopalian. Agggh. (Maria looks for another tree for repeat head-pounding session.)

  5. Hi Bosco,
    Firstly, thanks for the publicity! Always appreciated. I just wanted to offer a couple of comments, responses and some further info which may prove helpful.
    As you know, I am the NZ rep for Duplo Data, the company that produces WePray and it’s big brother, Living Liturgy.
    It is very important to note that WePray is not simply a digital version of the Prayer Book. It does include Prayer Book resources, but there is much more in there as well. I understand an online version of the Prayer Book is being arranged for those who just want that.
    Working through your comments, this is a Windows programme. Given the small number of potential consumers it is not viable to produce a Mac version also (a bit like trying to get paperback theology books!). The next generation of Living Liturgy and WePray will certainly be even more Mac friendly though.
    As you note, there is a ‘demo’ period when registration is not required. Rather than having the registration pop up throughout this time, it will automatically appear when that period is ended.
    I appreciate your comments about the ‘look’ of the programme. I don’t think it’s that bad, but I’ll pass them on. Suffice it to say we’ve been more focussed on content and functionality than appearance.
    Likewise, I hear what you say about clipart, but I need to report that it is still the single-most requested resource. Unlike Living Liturgy, WePray just offers a limited amount of clipart for Sundays. Living Liturgy allows users to create their own clipart collections.
    The Collects in WePray follow those set out in the lectionary, including the reference to which Collect in the old NZPB cycle they are. This will be removed in future editions, but has been deliberately left at present to fit in with the lectionary.
    WePray and Living Liturgy continue to offer a variety of Collect choices each week, including NZPB, APBFA, the Consultation on Common Texts work for the RCL and specially prepared Maori prayers.
    The term ‘Opening Prayer’ was adopted for the Preface by the Liturgical Commission – don’t ask me why! In the future I will hopefully work towards making some changes there, and also ensure that the calendar defaults to the correct preface for the season, rather than having to be manually selected.
    Both programmes include the NZPB liturgies in their entirety in the Liturgy Documents section. Absent from there right now are the Eucharistic liturgies (for a variety of reasons) but they will be added!
    An added feature, and one that can be a big help for those less familiar with liturgical structure, are the Liturgy Templates which layout each NZPB liturgy.
    I would love to include Celebrating Eucharist as a resource!
    Finally, I need to be clear that the Anglican Church has not spent a cent on the development and production of WePray. As most are aware, the contract between Duplo Data and the church for Living Liturgy was cancelled last year, and yes, that did mean the church said goodbye to a significant investment. Duplo Data has committed to continuing to resource its users in NZ, and WePray is an offering for those who don’t want or need the full functionality of the premium programme (Living Liturgy) but still want access to its vast resource library.
    Sorry for the very long post, but I hope this provides some clarity!

    1. Thanks for your very helpful comments, Brian. [It would be interesting to know how many downloads this post leads to].

      I am thrilled to hear there is a web-version of NZPB in the pipeline. Let’s hope it arrives prior to the expiration of the free period for this program 🙂

      I have had no issue running the program on a Mac with a Windows emulation. It does appear from the Liturgy Facebook page that: “ACK! I get an error message that “ActiveX components can’t create object – 429″ on my office Windows computer.” and I notice you have written elsewhere

      It is a feature called User Access Control in Win 7 (and sometimes Vista) which usually is causing these problems.

      Try to switch off UAC. Find description both for Vista and Win 7 here:

      Disable/switch off UAC
      Install WePray
      Check if it is running OK. If not remove the installation and reinstall.
      If it is running OK, try to enable UAC.
      Usually it is only when installing UAC has to be disabled.

      As to the clip-art being “the single-most requested resource” in a NZ liturgy program… the mind boggles… and I am speechless… That certainly reinforces my point that… no I’ll just move on…

      I’m not sure that Alternative Great Thanksgivings A-F are present?

      Let’s talk in another place (email?) how best Celebrating Eucharist might be added.



  6. Thanks Bosco

    The Alternative Great THANKSGIVINGS can all be found under ‘Liturgies’.

    I will email you to begin a conversation about CE, and also my upcomign workshops in Christchruch.

    A blessed Friday to you!


  7. Ah. WePray. In Australia, we have what I suspect is the same application, but named ePray. I have used ePray a lot – it is one of the ways that Anglican parishes get a licence to reproduce bits of our ‘A Prayer Book for Australia’ (APBA). I think your observation is correct – good for people familiar with liturgy, a bit of a problem if you’re not. I’ve seen some appalling and ill-thought out combinations of things whacked together into PowerPoints and forced onto worshipping communities. I suspect that is the rule rather than the exception…
    I also think that it is disingenuous to say that there aren’t enough potential Mac users to make it viable. The same database driven app is repurposed in multiple territories – a Mac app could be developed, and the data ‘dropped in’.
    Myself – rather have a book. But if we are to have electronic liturgy, I’d rather work with text files or PDF and work it out myself.

  8. Hermano David|Brother Dah•veed

    I did not buy the first iPad, but am 2/3s the way to saving the approximate price for the next generation that should be available in MAR or APR.

    1. David – I just told your linked story to a small group of people. It was actually a friend of one of the people I was talking to! I regularly get the impression I don’t live in a big city, but a small village…

  9. The Australian version, ePray, suffers from being “not simply a digital version of the Prayer Book” too. Having been to a class on how to use ePray, I, along with everyone else there – including a very liturgically cluey with a maths PhD – had no idea at all of how to use the thing by the end of the day.

    It took much playing with it over the next six months to work out how to find just the texts (all most people were ever going to look for) to cut and paste them.

    I’m not sure you’ll have the same clip art, but I’d never use the Australian stuff in a month of Sundays. Until they put Steve Erspamer’s stuff in (which won’t be to everyone’s taste, but is better than everything else I’ve seen around) one will have to look elesewhere for graphics.

    What a pity both NZ and Australia didn’t go the way of the Episcopal Church!

    1. Thanks, Robert. I think you will have gathered from my post that I have not explored the clip art much so I cannot answer whether it includes the art of Brother Steve Erspamer. His art, you probably realise, is cut paper, and he draws on traditional iconography.

  10. need fix to error message:
    If you receive an ActiveX message when installing WePray

    one website showed a link to the fix, but the link was bad.

    1. Thanks, Bjarte, I have also received several emails continuing to ask about this – so I will pass on this information. (I had to edit the web address into your comment, because your having a gap between “New” and “Zealand” meant that the URL broke at that point – this may be worth reflecting on, as it means issues if someone emails the web address to another person, for example.)

  11. I am happy to report that the fix worked and I am able to complete the install on Windows 7. I’ll share that with the clergy at Christ Church New Bern , NC

    Thanks for all your help.

  12. I wonder if there are some statistics on how churches use the NZ Prayer Book. I know some have typed bits of it into a computer to project onto a screen, others have other bits printed (in clearer form) for special services – e.g. for elderly people or those unused to finding their way around a big book of liturgy.

    I think there should be a priority placed on making some parts freely available in electronic form, especially the text needed for “special” services (parts selected after research into what doesn’t work so well out of a big book) where being able to play around with the font and position of the text (without having to type it in from scratch and risk errors) could greatly improve its readability and so the “flow” of the services.

    If there is a revision of the NZPB for modern use I can imagine lots of improvements to the printing for clarity and general “ergonomics”, without any controversial wording changes, that could help. Yet whatever I think is an improvement may be a nuisance for somebody wanting to (say) fit text on an overhead screen, and their priorities might be exactly wrong for someone aiming to produce text that can be read easily by visually-impaired readers… even more reason to make electronic forms easily available (even if there still have to be legal restrictions on them).

    1. Generally I think our church avoids keeping any statistics – so I would be surprised to find anything like this, Mark. I’m sure we have all attended significant services where we find typos in the service booklet. Sadly – because the text has not been available digitally.

  13. I’m writing a new musical setting for our Sung (Choral ) Eucharist, and need permission to quote from the NZPB. My snail mail letter to Box 2148 Rotorua was returned “Box Closed;” where can I find a contact please?

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