Services and prayers from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) are now available via Amazon’s range of Alexa smart speakers thanks to a new service from its publisher, Cambridge University Press.
This is the first time the 1662 Book of Common Prayer has been made accessible in this format.
The Press has launched the Cambridge Prayer Book, a new ‘skill’ – one of the voice-driven apps that provide Alexa’s capabilities – that allows users to take part in the traditional services and prayers and to learn more about the history of the Prayer Book.
As Queen’s Printer, Cambridge University Press administers the Crown Copyright of the BCP and its Bibles team worked with the Prayer Book Society to bring about this merger of ancient and modern.
Bob Groser, Director for Cambridge Bibles, said: “There are prayer readings available on smart speakers, but we wanted to make available this traditional liturgy, the liturgy of Thomas Cranmer that has influenced so much of our literature and culture and which is known and loved by so many.
“It’s a privilege to be in a position to bring the elegant and accessible spirituality of the Prayer Book into people’s homes. What began as an effort to make it more widely accessible has taken on a real sense of urgency as the pandemic has closed churches and cut many people off from the support and community they find there. We also hope it will be welcomed by those unable to get to church due to illness or other challenges.”
To begin with, both the Morning and Evening Prayer services from the BCP have been included in the skill, along with selected prayers including the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed and the Grace. There is also a small selection of Bible readings and plans to add more content in the future.
The services are read by clergy from the church of St John the Evangelist, near to the Press’s Cambridge headquarters. In place of a congregation, responses during the services are provided by members of the Press’ own in-house choir.
The skill will be supported by pages on the Bibles section of the Press website, where people can learn what to expect and see a list of questions they can ask Alexa. To access the skill, users simply ask their speaker to open or enable the Cambridge Prayer Book.
Bob said: “Cambridge University Press is the oldest Bible and prayer book publisher in the world and we are keenly aware of our responsibility and tradition of care for the text. At the same time, Bible and prayer book publishing must adapt to an increasingly digital world.
“If these wonderful texts and traditions are to stay relevant and live in hearts and minds, they must embrace the new and be available at the times and in ways people want and expect. We are proud and excited to provide a new way for the words of the Book of Common Prayer to comfort and inspire.”
Readers can activate the ‘skill’ by saying “Alexa, enable the Cambridge Prayer Book”. To find out more about what is possible on the ‘skill’, visit the Cambridge University Press website.Jump to next article