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    The 1959 Japanese Book of Common Prayer


Japan is home to one of the largest Anglican Churches, the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK), in a country never part of the British Empire

Japan was first evangelized by Anglicans in 1859, when missionaries came from the American Episcopal Church, following the opening up of Japan to the West in 1853. The Americans were followed by Church of England missionaries in 1869 (C.M.S.) and 1873 (S.P.G.). Fortunately, these groups eventually did cooperate and formed the NSKK in 1887, an independent Anglican Church.

The NSKK published its first Book of Common Prayer in 1878, with a major revision in 1895. This book maintained some of the differences of the founding Churches, particularly in the Eucharist, which included both English and American forms as alternatives. There were a number of revisions to this BCP, with the last one before WW II coming in 1938. A number of these are linked to on our Languages page. Following the war, work was started on a major revision published in 1959, portions of which are presented here. It is the first BCP to use post-war Japanese orthography. This 1959 edition had the first Japanese liturgy which was wholly original and not an adaptation / translation of English and American forms. The Eucharistic liturgy was perhaps the first Anglican liturgy to make use (albeit limited) of the liturgical revival of the previous 10-20 years, and so deviated significantly from previous Anglican forms in a number of respects; for this it received a fair amount of criticism at the time. Besides the revised Eucharistic liturgy, local features include prayers for the emperor, and services for harvest thanksgiving, the admission of catechumens, and a commemoration for the establishment of this church. The baptismal services integrate language for adults and children, and make extensive provision for emergency baptism and conditional baptism. Some prayers reflect the strong anti-war stance of this church.

The 1959 BCP was published in a more classical form of Japanese than is used for speech today. It was superseded in 1990 by a new Book of Common Prayer, in contemporary Japanese. The 1959 Book is still used occasionally, however. For more on the 1959 Eucharistic liturgy, see Modern Anglican Liturgies 1958-1968, Colin Buchanan, ed. (OUP, 1968), and also a chapter for The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer, edited by Charles Hefling and Cynthia Shattuck (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 393-396. This book is listed with an incorrect title as 67:15 in David Griffiths’s Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer.


Cover, 1959 BCP
Title page, 1959 Japanese Book of Copmmon Prayer

What we present here are first, the 1959 BCP in the original Japanese, mostly complete as edtable text, along with the complete book as PDF graphics. We also have Morning and Evening Prayer, and Holy Communion from the 1959 Japanese Book of Common Prayer, both in English translation, and in Rōmaji — Japanese rendered into Roman letters, rather than the ideographs one normally sees. The main English translation was published at about the same time and by the same people who published the Rōmaji version. Finally, we have another English translation of the Eucharist, which was made by a Canadian priest who formerly served in Japan, and who has this to say about his translation:

In making this translation I have endeavoured to follow the Japanese text very closely, and although this has occasionally resulted in rather choppy English, I believe that it at least highlights the points of departure of the Japanese text. I have used Jacobean English in the translation in order to reflect that the original text is in Classical Japanese, and have tried to follow traditional Prayer Book phrasing where this is supported by the Japanese text. Scriptural passages are taken from the King James Bible.

In other words, this translation is intended to be as literal as possible. The notes in the text are those of the translator.

The Rōmaji text was printed about 1964 to help (mostly English-speaking) foreigners follow the Japanese-language services. Rōmaji is seldom used in extended works like this today, but can often be seen in much shorter examples (e. g., street signs) and is sometimes used to help teach Japanese.

The original Japanese text is presented immedaitely below as PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files, and as text, not graphics, so it is completely searchable and editable. You may also click on the link at right to get the entire book as readable PDF graphics.


English title page


View or download the complete 1959 Japanese BCP as PDF graphics. (size=25MB)


日本聖公会 1959年祈祷書
The 1959 Book of Common Prayer
of the Nippon Seikokai

公会暦,日課,詩編表 1-57 The Church Calendar, Lectionary, Order for the recitation of the Psalter


58-62 Preface to Morning Prayer
早祷 63-75 Morning Prayer
晩祷序式 76-79 Preface to Evening Prayer
晩祷 80-85 Evening Prayer
アタナシオ信経 86-90 The Athanasian Creed
嘆願 91-99 The Litany
諸祈祷・感謝 100-126 Prayers and Thanksgivings
聖餐式・準備 127-135 The Holy Communion: Introduction and Preparation
聖餐式・本文 136-168 The Holy Communion
特祷・使徒書・福音書 169-400 Collects, Epistles and Gospels
聖洗式 401-418 Holy Baptism
公会問答 419-427 The Catechism
堅信式(信徒按手式) 428-432



433-447 Holy Matrimony
産後感謝式 448-451 Thanksgiving after Childbirth
病者訪問式 452-472 The Visitation of the Sick
葬送式 473-495 The Order for the Burial of the Dead
幼年葬送式 496-508 The Order for the Burial of a Child
大齋懴悔式 509-516 A Service for the Beginning of Lent
聖職按手式序 517-518 Preface to the Ordinal
執事按手式 519-527 Ordination of a Deacon
司祭按手式 528-541 Ordination of a Priest
主教按手式 542-555 Ordination of a Bishop
主教就任式 556-561 The Installation of a Bishop
礼拝堂聖別式 562-583 The Form of Consecration of a Church
牧師任命式 584-595 The Institution of a Pastor
付録   Appendix
家族の朝の祈り 599-600 Morning Prayer for Use by Families
家族の夕の祈り 600-601 Evening Prayer for Use by Families
午祷 604-612 Noonday Prayer
終祷 613-623 Compline
日本聖公会組織成立記念日祈祷 624-627 A Service Commemorating the Establishment of the Nippon Seikokai
収穫感謝 628-630 Harvest Thanksgiving
伝道祈祷 631-638 A Service for Missions
洗礼志願式 639-640 A Service for Catechumens
伝道師認可式 641-644 A Service for the Commissioning of a Missionary
女執事任命式 645-650 A Service for the Setting Apart of a Deaconess
逝去者記念 651-659 The Commemoration of the Departed
詩編 1-291 The Psalter
    All the above in a single file.


The 1959 Book of Common Prayer in Rōmaji:
Introduction (in English)
Morning Prayer
Holy Communion
Evening Prayer

The 1959 Book of Common Prayer (English translation)
    Morning Prayer
    Holy Communion
    Evening Prayer

    Holy Communion: another translation



Thanks are due to Richard Mammana, who transcribed Japanese text, and to Thomas Rae, who provided a copy of the book.

Thanks are also due to Bp. Terry Brown and Richard Mammana for providing the Romaji and main English texts, and to the Rev. Nelson Boon for an English translation of the Eucharist.

Web author: Charles Wohlers U. S. EnglandScotlandIrelandWalesCanadaWorld