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NZ Prayer Book 20 years on

Sunday November 29 is the 20th anniversary of the launch of A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (NZPB/HKMA).
I would be interested in knowing how many copies have been sold in New Zealand?
How many copies have been sold overseas?
How many copies were bought and are now sitting at the back of churches on shelves and seldom brought out, or in pews and seldom used? How many are using this book as the standard for worship?
There is a lot of enthusiasm amongst some people about this Prayer Book – but is it the prayer book as a whole – or certain sections of it that people find exhilarating? My own suspicion is that there is a small collection of nuggets within the book that people treasure and enthuse about. This post is going to quickly hover over the contents and make brief comments and ask some questions.

The Calendar
The Church Year p 4-6 has changed significant shape since 1989 (the date of publication)
a lot of the regulations p 7-13 have been altered since 1989
The Calendar p 14-25 the feasts have been added to, altered, and moved

Liturgies of the Word
Morning and Evening Worship p 29-53 my guess would be that this service is little used as it stands
Daily Services p 54-103 The Common Life Liturgical Commission provided an alternative to this with Celebrating Common Prayer (NZ). Clergy here have in these last 2 decades no longer been required to pray the office. In a denomination with previously a strong dynamic that all pray the office daily, I would be fascinated to know how many of our 100,000 faithful Anglicans use this office provided here. It should not be that difficult for that to be surveyed. I suspect it would be a very small proportion.
Daily Devotions p 104-137 I suspect these are popular before a meeting, etc. They are part of what people find and appreciate as “different” in this book.
Midday Prayer p 147 – 166 I suspect as with the Daily Devotions
Night Prayer p 167 – 186 I suspect one of the most popular services in the book
Family Prayer p 187 – 191 Had you noticed it?

Psalms for Worship p 195 – 373 Controversial because of the changes to “Israel” and “Zion”, and the removal of the imprecatory material. Inclusive, yet still translates YHWH as Lord. My guess would be – widely used.

Liturgy of Baptism and the Laying on of Hands for Confirmation and Renewal p 383 – 399
My guess would be that local variants on the baptism rite exist in a majority of places. The confirmation service is probably mostly used untouched.

Liturgies of the Eucharist p 404 – 510
General Synod has allowed so many variations to these texts in the last twenty years there will be a lot of local variation. Certainly the NZ Anglican Church is not held together by a well-known, well-loved set of eucharistic texts. In any gathering of committed Anglicans beyond a regular parish community, it would not be possible to celebrate the Eucharist without giving people the texts in their hands (or on a screen). Only a very, very small number of our 100,000 would be able to give the response to “The peace of God be with you all.”
A Form for Ordering the Eucharist p 511-514 has been supplemented by General Synod with another formulary An Alternative Form For Ordering the Eucharist
A Service of the Word with Holy Communion p518-520. My guess: rarely used.
Themes for the Church’s Year p 522-524 Not used
Seasonal Sentences Prayers and Blessings for use after Communion p 525-545 Used by half?

Sentences Prayers and Readings for the Church’s Year p550-690 Mostly not used. Recently replaced by a digital resource.
Three Year Series p 691-723 Not used

Holy Communion p 729-737 Used by half?
Ministry of Healing p 738-748 drawn from as a resource?
Reconciliation of a Penitent p 750 – 753 used rarely?
Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child p 754-761 used by half?
Blessing of a Home p 762-775 used by some, including those with a sense of humour
Marriage Liturgies p 780 – 808 probably used as a primary resource. Second Form rarely used.

Funeral Liturgies
p 811- 884 used as a resource

Ordination Liturgies
p 887-924 often used as is; adapted as a resource for Total Ministry/Locally Shared Ministry

Catechism p 926-938 I would be interested to know
Table p 939 – 941 No longer valid

This is a completely unscientific summary. Have you been doing the Maths as we’ve gone along – is that about 8% of the text is being regularly used and is unchanged by General Synod or its commissions etc. in the last twenty years?

What are some of the best parts of NZPB/HKMA? We are a very small church (probably about the size of a large CofE diocese) if you really had a passion about something you could probably have gotten it into the Prayer Book.
The language is inclusive (horizontally and vertically) – though the Commission’s “Out of love for the world God gave the only Son…” was even beyond General Synod’s pale, and rather than leave it to “A sentence from scripture may be read” they insisted on having “God so love the world that he gave…” Lord is still Lord – and there’s lots of Lords.
There is quite a bit of complementary imagery. Probably most famously is Jim Cotter’s paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer “Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,…” although even the Commission couldn’t cope with Cotter’s original “Love-maker”.
There’s an increased sense of creation and a focus on the environment. Some of that was patched on later, of course. The “St Anne Liturgy”, otherwise known as the “Northland Rite” or “Pink 3” until 1983 had language like, “Therefore, Lord of glory,…” when it became Thanksgiving for Creation and Redemption there was a find-and-replace to language such as “Therefore, God of all creation…”
Maori has an appropriately significant place. Other Pacific Island languages are included. There is indigenous artwork included.
There is a very healthy theology of ordination, of the vocation of the laity.

What are some of the worst parts of NZPB/HKMA? We are a very small church (probably about the size of a large CofE diocese) if you really had a passion about something you could probably have gotten it into the Prayer Book.
Basic liturgical principles such as consistent responses to similar cues so that they can be learnt by heart were lost.
No calls were made to abandon material someone had worked so hard on (eg. the Two Year Lectionary).
Basic liturgical principles such as being able to watch during action – rather than needing one’s head in the book – were neglected.
Little attention was given to appropriate gestures that might fit with the newly created texts.
The baptism (confirmation) rite must take the international Anglican fail prize.
There is an extremely weak theology of the Trinity.
Essentially this was a text dropped into the life of the church – there is no commentary, little formation or training accompanied its introduction.
The digital text and the print films were lost, hence the Harper Collins edition of 1997 must count as one of the Anglican Communion’s ugliest prayer books, as it is essentially a bound black-and-white photocopy.
This was part of the New Zealand church losing possession of the full copyright of the text and why unlike other Anglican provinces, it cannot place the text online – much to the chagrin of many readers here.

This site already has much on this Prayer Book. I wrote a series using the model of language to illustrate liturgy – this has
Kiwi Anglican liturgy history part 1 (= liturgy as language 2)
Kiwi Anglican liturgy history part 2 (= liturgy as language 3)
as well as liturgy as language 1; liturgy as language 4; liturgy as language 5

Celebrating Eucharist my free online book accompanying the NZ Eucharistic text – hopefully of use in other contexts also.

The Archbishops’ message on the Prayer Book’s anniversary.

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5 thoughts on “NZ Prayer Book 20 years on”

  1. I’ve got one of the early copies of the NZPB and have used it often and for many things, although not recently. Our Education for Ministry seminar group loved the Compline rite in the book.

    One of the best representatives for the book is the Rev. David Guthrie; his podcasts of the Daily Office are excellent:

  2. I purchased a copy of the New Zealand Prayerbook as a reference/resource. I have not used it much, but have paged through it and been very inspired by the wording of the some of the prayers. Hmmm… Maybe in honor of its “birthday” I will pull it out tonight and use it for evening prayer!

    1. I am no expert in that part of its history, Colin. My understanding is that the original digital file was lost, and also the film used for printing. The original Colins editions were not printed in New Zealand. Then when a reprint was required, the Harper Collins edition of 1997 was produced, as I said, essentially photocopying the Colins edition. The artwork by our Archbishop on the cover was lost in that edition, as was the two-toned coloured artwork etc. That book is significantly thicker also. Currently the book is produced and printed in New Zealand and it has never looked so good or so slim! That involved the production of a new digital file. I think the Harper Collins edition was focused on USA and meant there was some negotiation with that company in terms of copyright. I am sorry I do not know or understand the fine details – and would be happy for a reader to correct or expand on any of this history. If you acknowledge my authorship, you can have anything on this site, including my book Celebrating Eucharist, for free – I think that gives you the idea where I stand on copyright of liturgical texts 🙂

  3. The NZ Prayer Book is a great treasure trove of worship resources for both collective and individual worship. No matter how many times I dip into it, I find something new and interesting.

    In its attempt to be comprehensive, however, it has ended up overly large and complex and can be very confusing to follow.

    It is also a large, heavy volume that is too heavy for elderly people to hold for any length of time.

    There seems to be an increasing trend towards parishes either printing booklets for the different liturgies or incorporating them into Powerpoint presentations for data projection. This allows all the confusing rubrics and alternatives to be removed and makes the service easier to follow, particularly for newcomers.

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