The Book of Common Prayer
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Common Prayer for Children (1931)





Compiled by




London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1931.


Introduction, 7
Children at the Eucharist, 10
A General Form of Service, 13
A Service when a Baptism is to follow, 21
Festivals, 27
Ash Wednesday, 32
Palm Sunday, 37
Good Friday, 40
Harvest Thanksgiving (and gift services), 44
Dedication Festival, 48
Prayers and Acts of Worship, 53



This book, intended to introduce children to the liturgical practices of the church, was compiled by the Reverend Canon Arthur Rupert Browne-Wilkinson (1889-1961), who was Principal of St. Christopher’s College, Blackheath (1926-1931), rector of Bedale, Yorkshire (1931-1938), and Rural Dean of Bedale (1937-1938). His other published works include The Confirmation School (London: St Christopher Press, 1930); Pastoral Work among Children (London: A.R. Mowbray, 1934); and The Religious and Moral Training of Children (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge for the National Society, 1941).


Thanks are due to Richard Mammana, who transcribed the book and provided most of the introduction.


THIS book of material for children’s services is intended for the guidance of parish priests and others who regard children’s services as a training ground for participation in the worship of the Church in later life. This idea should never be absent from the mind of the conductor of such services, and when entertained it involves certain conditions which this book endeavours to satisfy.
    It is not possible to train children of all ages together. Apart from other considerations, the fact that infants cannot handle books, whilst older children can and should, means that ordinarily we shall provide separate services for the infants, except that on the greater festivals there may be a service embracing the whole of the children of the parish. In this book, therefore, all the services presuppose that the youngest child will be at least eight years old. It is supposed, however, that in most parishes the children from eight to fourteen (the Junior and Senior Day and Sunday Schools) will usually be grouped together for the occasion suggested. Such a grouping would not be suitable if the children’s service afforded the only occasion for training in worship. But it is assumed that the sessions of the Sunday School, with closer grading, will be used for further training in the principles of prayer and worship. At the same time we must insist that taking part in church worship can never be taught without regular occasions for its practice in a service in church. Two such occasions are in the compiler’s mind. In the first place there is the Sunday morning service. In some parishes this is a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, either especially provided for the children or a simple Parish Eucharist to which the children of the Junior and Senior schools come. The first section of this book is therefore devoted to notes on the training of children at such a service.
    The other occasion is the Sunday afternoon service on one or more Sundays in the month, and on special occasions. At these afternoon services the task before us is not merely to provide a service which will be suitable at the time, but to prepare the children to take their part in the Prayer Book services later on. With this end in view a form of service with a distinct structure, broadly corresponding with the Prayer Book offices, is suggested (page 14). In this way a sense of liturgical form is built up. Furthermore, the phraseology of the Prayer Book will be present to a considerable degree. At the same time considerable freedom is claimed in arranging Prayer Book phrases and contexts to suit the special needs of children.
    But the adult offices offer far too rich a mixture of ideas and far too frequent transition of mood and thought for children and, therefore, an attempt is made to devise a method for keeping one part or aspect of worship predominating throughout the service on each occasion of its use (see notes on the first general form of service, page 13).
    It is not intended that the children should have copies of this book or of any of the forms of service. Part of the training consists in teaching them to handle their Prayer Books, and in each service there are points where places must be found in the Prayer Book. The conductor should tell the children to find the places, giving clear instructions and time for them to be carried out. Children like finding places if they are not hurried. Every child should be provided with a Prayer Book with several markers in it, and with a hymn book. It is usually a good plan to find and mark certain places before the service begins. Where responses are needed for Litany form the conductor tells the children what the response is before each group of petitions or thanksgivings.
    A special service is provided for use when a baptism is to follow, in order that the occasion may be taken to bring home to the children the meaning of their own baptism, an aim that the teacher should constantly have in view. This form of service is the most difficult in the book, and it may not be possible to take the whole of it each time. It affords, however, an excellent method for securing the verbal knowledge of important sections of the Catechism, accompanied with a right emotional approach.
    In the festival services an especial attempt has been made to train children to appreciate what is the core of the divine office, namely, the reading of scripture with responsive singing. It will be a great gain if by such means children can be trained to expect that the lessons are relevant and interesting, and to connect their singing with what they have heard. Processions are suggested at the festivals. These may, of course, be omitted, although it is a pity to deprive children of a means of expression especially natural to them, namely, movement.
    The services suggested for certain other occasions call for no special comment here, as an explanatory note is provided before each service.
    Finally, a brief selection of prayers and acts of worship which can be introduced into any of the services at suitable places at the discretion of the conductor is given. Care must be exercised, however, not to destroy the balance of the service by using too many_ additional prayers. Children can follow brief prayers if carefully trained, but are not able to keep up with the effort involved in trying to follow strings of prayers. It is always well to tell children exactly what to expect, e.g. “We will now say three prayers—one to thank; another, etc.”
    The compiler has had to remember that the traditions of parishes vary: it is not expected that any parish priest will wish to use any of the services precisely as they stand on any or all occasions. Some will wish to omit much that is suggested, others will make certain additions.
    Throughout the book suggestions for hymns have been made from the Church and School Hymnal. The compiler believes this to be the best available hymn book for children’s services, but clearly the hymns and the book are only suggestions and others may be substituted.
    The compiler is very much indebted to. Canon C. S. Woodward and The Challenge for permission to print six prayers from The Children’s Service, and to Miss A. Milner-Barry and the Church of England Sunday School Institute for allowing the incorporation of material taken from Forms of Prayer and Praise for use in Sunday School (Middle Department).

A. R. B.-W.



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