A Year with the BCP is very pleased to announce that this week’s guest blogger is The Rev. Canon Gregory M. Howe, Custodian of the Standard Book of Common Prayer. Today Canon Howe offers an explanation of the nature of the Custodian. His post about Holy Saturday will follow in the next few days. Thank you, Canon Howe, for serving as a guest blogger!
In the 1860’s the General Convention was concerned about page and text uniformity or congruence as the Book of Common Prayer was being printed by several different publishers – so that any edition could be used with ease in any congregation. Since theBCP was/is not copyright, there was a certain amount of confusion. One publisher was found to have the bulky collection of metal plates then necessary to print theBCP.
General Convention decided that a presbyter should be appointed to take custody of the printing plates, and be responsible for certifying and circulating all future revisions. At the revision of 1892, a Standard Book was established so that all other editions should conform to it under the direction of the Custodian. The first Custodian had been appointed in 1868 and I am the 8th of the line [a complete list can be found at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Custodian_of_the_Standard_Book_of_Common_Prayer ]. I was nominated by the Presiding Bishop and confirmed by the House of Bishops.
Happily, I don’t have to worry about a large pile of heavy metal plates, but I am a sort of living copyright. I check all new editions of the BCP, or parts thereof, as well as any music that employs text from the BCP, before granting a Certificate that the material is congruent with the Standard Book. In addition, I am an ex officio member of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music [voice, but no vote], and sit with Legislative Committee #13 Liturgy & Music at General Convention.