The Book of Common Prayer
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    The Book of Common Prayer in Cree
Coastal Eastern Cree Dialect


Cree is the most widely spoken Native American tongue in Canada, with nearly 100,000 speakers spread from the boreal forests of Labrador in the East to Alberta in the West. Like most indigenous languages, it has a number of dialects, with one group usually being able to understand neighboring dialects, but probably not those far away.

Cree is not usually written in Roman characters, but has a syllabic alphabet developed by Methodist missionary James Evans in the 1840's. The characters in this writing system typically stand for a consonant followed by a vowel (e. g., chi, ki, mi, ni, etc.). It proved very simple to use, and contributed to near-universal literacy among the Cree in a short amount of time. There are two variations: one used in the East (Ontario & Quebec) and one in the West (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta).

The Book of Common Prayer was first translated into Cree in the 1850's and has gone through about a dozen editions in three dialects serving the Cree peoples in Manitoba, Northern Ontario and parts of Quebec. The edition presented here is in the Coastal Eastern Cree dialect, which is spoken primarily on the eastern shore of James Bay in northern Quebec. It was first published in 1923 with this particular printing dating from 1943; it is a translation of the 1918 Canadian Book of Common Prayer. It contains only portions of the BCP, as may be seen from the Table of Contents below It appears in David Griffiths' Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer as 20:2. A Cree Hymnal is appended to the end of the book.

The book was translated by the Rev. William G. Walton (1869-1948) and his wife, Daisy. Rev. Walton was a CMS missionary based in Ft. George, Quebec, from 1892 to 1924.

Because of the nature of the syllabic printing, the book is presented here as Adobe PDF files, one file for the BCP and one for the Hymnal. There are bookmarks in the BCP PDF for easier navigation. Note that the Hymnal used here was incorrectly bound, with a repeat of pages 15-46 instead of pages 79-110; thus pages 79-110 are missing from the Hymnal PDF.



Cree Coastal book

Read or download the Coastal Cree Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal.


  The Order for Morning Prayer.
  The Order for Evening Prayer.
  The Litany.
  Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, to be used at holy Communion (Epistles & Gospels by reference only).
  Holy Communion.
  A Catechism.
  The Order of Confirmation.
  The Solemnization of Matrimony.
  The Burial of the Dead.

  The Hymnal


Last Updated: 8 July 2020
Web author: Charles Wohlers U. S. EnglandScotlandIrelandWalesCanadaWorld