A gloss on the BCP

This week Prayer Book Society (PBS) announced that first-year students in theological colleges across the country are to receive a brand new glossary to assist their understanding of the free copy of The Book of Common Prayer which is handed to them by the PBS at the start of their studies. The glossary is also available to others free of charge, and is on-line together with a Prayer Book Glossary card, which is designed to be used as a bookmark.

Prompted by this initiative of the PBS, we have compiled our own  – An (ecclesiastical) law glossary.

The PBS Glossary

The PBS states that this is the brainchild of Bristol PR consultant and Prayer Book Society press officer Tim Stanley, and the glossary was researched and drafted by Fergus Butler-Gallie, a 25-year- old ordinand at Westcott House Theological College in Cambridge, (not quite the Daily Mail’s crib sheet…compiled by Fergus Butler-Gallie, who has been in the Church for 25 years” (unless one assumes that F B-G has been “in the Church” since baptism)).

The PBS comments:

“Although Cranmer committed himself to setting out church services in ‘a tongue understanded of the people,’ the meaning of some of his language – as with Shakespeare’s – has changed over the centuries. The new glossary aims to help theological students and other Prayer Book users understand words which are unfamiliar or whose meanings have changed. They range from supplication and satisfaction to oblation and holpen”.

For older readers brought up on the BCP, many of the words and possibly their meaning will be quite familiar, and media selections from the list in the glossary vary according to editorial taste. Having looked thoroughout the list, we have gotten our own selection, below:

  • Comfort: Comfortable: from the late Latin confortare, to strengthen, to make strong; to be strengthened.
  • Conversation: public conduct or behaviour.
  • Froward: perverse, contrary.
  • Ghost, Ghostly: from Old English gāst (German, Geist) Spirit; spiritual. e.g. “…together with ghostly counsel and advice.”
  • Miserable: pitiable, in needing of mercy.
  • Prevent (as in “Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings”): precede, go before, from the Latin praevenire.
  • Sabaoth: in Hebrew, “hosts” or “armies.”
  • Vulgar: easily understandable.

Those wishing to know the meanings of “adminicle”, “sist”, “contumacious” (and many others) will need to wait for our (hopefully) pellucid post which we will porrect next week. In the meantime, they might visit Choral Evensong website and find a convenient BCP service.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "A gloss on the BCP" in Law & Religion UK, 14 September 2017, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2017/09/14/a-gloss-on-the-bcp/

1 thought on “A gloss on the BCP

  1. I managed to pick this stuff up in my tweens – scruffy, ignorant schoolkid though I was – simply by reading it aloud every Sunday and on some weekdays: it’s not as if it was Old Church Slavonic or Ge’ez.

    But Dr Oswald Mosis is a wonderful teacher.

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