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Young Voices Ancient Words

by glynch — last modified 14 Sep, 2017 09:45 AM

Prayer Book Society sponsors competition for local schools

A society committed to promoting the Church of England’s traditional forms of worship is sponsoring a competition to help young people engage with ancient beauties.

The Cranmer Awards are organised by the Prayer Book Society, which seeks to encourage the use and understanding of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, a foundational document not only for the Church of England, but for the English language.

Jon Riding, a worshipper at Sherborne Abbey, who organises the competition locally said, “The Book of Common Prayer is foundational to English identity and culture. So much of its language and theology underpins what it is to be English that were its influence to be lost we should be greatly impoverished as a nation and people.

“The Cranmer Awards is an annual national competition run by the Prayer Book Society (PBS) to encourage young people to engage with the Prayer Book. Candidates are invited to prepare and read one or more passages from the BCP before a panel of judges.”

There are prizes of £200, £150 and £100 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each of two streams. The Regional Heats for Salisbury and Wessex are to be held at Sherborne School on Saturday 4 November.

Jon Riding continued, “Entries are invited from Schools or Churches in both the 11-14 years and 15-18 years categories. Winners of regional heats will go forward to the national competition in February 2018 and will also receive a presentation prayer book from the Salisbury branch of the PBS.

“Traditionally, we have had a majority of our entries from independent schools, so we are particularly keen to see more entries from schools in the state sector, whether C of E or community schools. Regardless of anyone’s religious views, reading the Prayer Book in public is a great way to improve public speaking.”

Some wonder if such an ancient text is still relevant to young people today, but the Book of Common Prayer seems to have an appeal for some who first encounter it as young adults. Attendance is rising, for example, at BCP Choral Evensong in many university and college chapels.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London until recently, said, “Far be it from me to promote a cult of quaintness, but the power of the Prayer Book to connect with many of those who find the ordinary diet of the church banal, should not be ignored. There is now a younger generation who are realising afresh the importance of complementing the argot of Twitter and SMS with the majesty of Cranmer.”

For more details and to enter candidates please go to: where you will find more details about the competition and how to enter or email

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