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Common Prayers of the Church.
Philadelphia: Episcopal Committee in Promoting Christian Work among the Chinese in Philadelphia, 1884.

Introduction

This Chinese translation of Morning Prayer and the Ante-Communion from the Book of Common Prayer was published for use in the Diocese of Pennsylvania during the tenure of the Right Reverend William Bacon Stevens (1815-1887, bishop 1865-1887). The following contemporary notice by Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewskyindicates that it is an adaptation of his famous translation with John Shaw Burdon:

TRANSLATION OF THE CHINESE PRAYER BOOK.

To the Editor of The Churchman:

In The Churchman of June 27th, in the obituary notice of the Rev. Augustus C. Hoehing, signed T., it is stated that “the Chinese Prayer Book now in use was of his (Mr. Hoehing’s) translation.”

This is a mistake. To my certain knowledge Mr. Hoehing never published any translation of the Prayer Book or of portions of the Prayer Book. If the writer of the obituary notice refers to the Chinese Prayer Book now in use in our mission in China, that was translated by myself in the years 1879 and 1880, in the modern easy literary style, as I felt that the Prayer Book in that style would be acceptable to the educated classes, and could be used all over China, even in those parts where the people speak dialects of their own. If the writer refers to the small service book “published by the Episcopal Committee in promoting Christian work among the Chinese in Philadelphia”—copy of which has only recently come into my hands—this has been compiled from the translation of the Prayer Book above spoken of. The only change that has been made is in the term for God, that used by myself being changed for another, and one which I regard as being objectionable in every way. It is hardly necessary to say that this change was made without my knowledge.

When Mr. Hoehing labored in Hankow as a missionary, the Prayer Book used by him and other missionaries at that station and by our missionaries at Wuchang (a city on the other side of the Yangts river, opposite Hankow) was a compilation from a translation of the Prayer Book, made in Peking some seventeen (17) years ago, by the present Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong (Dr. Burdon), and myself. This version of the Prayer Book was made in the Mandarin or Qwan Wha, the language spoken by the officials and all educated people in China, and is the vernacular, with more or less modification, of Northern and Western China. The writer of this obituary notice of Mr. Hoehing also mentions that “he has left Esop’s Fables ready for publication.” These Fables were ably translated and published about forty (40) years ago, by a Mr. Thorn, at that time one of the English consuls in China.

As regards Mr. Hoehing’s Chinese scholarship, he was but two years in China (see Spirit of Missions for July), and while he had made good progress for the length of time that he had been there, it would not have been possible either for him or any other missionary to attain the proficiency in that most difficult language accorded him by the writer of the obituary.

S. I. J. SCHERESCHEWSKY.
Geneva, Switzerland, July 13, 1885.

From The Churchman, August 8, 1885, pp. 152-153.

This text is not listed in David Griffiths’s Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer 1549-1999 (London: The British Library; New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2002). It was digitized in 2015 by Richard Mammana from a personal copy.

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