Alexa, let's pray

Alexa smart speakers have a new skill today: praying the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

Users can now ask Amazon’s Alexa devices to “Pray the Lord’s Prayer” or “Recite the Grace”. You can also follow the Apostles’ Creed or say the morning and evening prayer.

It won’t be Alexa voicing the prayers. Instead, you’ll hear clergy from St John the Evangelist church in Cambridge. Responses are said by members of the Cambridge University Press choir.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the traditional prayer book used in Anglican Churches around the world, widely loved for the beauty of its language, giving us phrases including “peace in our time” and “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”.  Copyright for the BCP is owned by the English Crown, but administered by Cambridge University Press – the oldest publisher of Bibles in the world.

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.

“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,” said Bob Groser, Director for Cambridge Bibles.

“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.”

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer was compiled by Thomas Cranmer. According to the UK’s Prayer Book Society, it is the most frequently cited book in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after the King James Version of the Bible, and is “one of the guiding influences on our language”.

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