Ghana flag The Book of Common Prayer
United States England Scotland Ireland Wales Canada World

The Book of Common Prayer in Shona


Shona is a major Bantu language, spoken by about 11,000,000 people primarily in Zimbabwe, but also in neighboring countries. It is by far the most commonly spoken African language in Zimbabwe, and is one of the most widely spoken Bantu tongues. Shona is written in Latin script, as is used here.

This first Anglican liturgical translations into Shona, aided by Bernard Mizeki, included the text of the first six chapters of the Gospel according to St. Mark, Morning and Evening Prayer (presented here) as well as a number of hymns, all published in 1898. Other translations followed down to the present day. Since the first Anglican missionaries initially evangelized Manicaland, in the eastern part of Zimbabwe, early translations tended to be oriented towards the Manyika dialect (called a separate language in Ethnologue). Over time these translations have drifted closer towards standard Shona.

Three texts are presented here. First and oldest is Morning and Evening Prayer translated in 1898. Second is a fairly complete Book of Common Prayer from 1937, which is listed in David Griffiths' Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer as 154:4 (with the exception that the copy used here additionally includes a Hymnal). Third is the South African Communion Service of 1954 translated into Shona. All are linked below.

For the 1937 BCP, we have the major services as HTML text, plus the entire book as PDF images. There is text "behind" the PDF images, but that text has not been checked for errors. Since Zimbabwe was at this time part of the Province of South Africa, one might expect that the Communion service would be the South African Alternative Service of 1923, but that is not the case - it is a straight translation of the 1662 Eucharist.



Table of Contents

Munamato we Mangwanani
  Morning Prayer
Munamato we Manheru
  Evening Prayer
Munamato ne Zwitendo, pa dzimwe nguwa
  Prayers & Thanksgivings
Minamato, Matsamba, ne Mavangeri
  Collects, Epistles & Gospels
Munamato we Chidhlo cha Tenzi
  Holy Communion
Munamato we Rubapatidzo rwe pachena rwe tuwana
  Public Baptism of Infants
Rubapatidzo rwe Wakuru
  Baptism of Adults
Munamato we Kusimbiswa
Munamato we Kuroworisa
  Holy Matrimony
Munamato we Kuwiga Wakapa
  Burial of the Dead
  Selections of Psalms
Munamato ne Nzira ye Kugadzwa kwe Wadikoni
  Making of Deacons
Munamato ne Nzira ye Kugadzwa kwe Wapristi
  Ordaining of Priests

All the above, as PDF images (size = 24MB)
Zwiyimbo (the Hymnal), as PDF images (8MB)

Morning & Evening Prayer in Shona (1898)

1954 South African Communion Service in Shona (1957)

Web author: Charles Wohlers U. S. EnglandScotlandIrelandWalesCanadaWorld