Hutchinson’s Cantonese translation (1877-78)

聖公禱文. The Book of Common Prayer. St. Stephen’s Church, Hongkong, 1877.

This is a translation, in Cantonese Colloquial and in the Chinese character, of the Morning and Evening Prayers, the Athanasian Creed, the Litany, the Prayers and Thanksgivings, by the Rev. A. B. Hutchinson. The whole reads remarkably well and a comparatively low class of Colloquial having been aimed at by the translator, we really believe there are very few passages or sentences in it which would not be perfect intelligible to every man or woman on being read aloud. As a translation also the book is better than any other Cantonese version of the Book of Common Prayer that has been attempted yet. A few expressions however require emendation. For instance 聖明衆嘅先知 is an awkward way of rendering “the goodly fellowship of the prophets;” 閏女 used throughout for “the Virgin” does not necessarily imply the idea of virginity; 君宰 for “the Queen” and 君王臣宰 for “our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Victoria” are manifestly not translations, especially the latter term which we would suppose meant rather “our Sovereign and his Ministers.” The latter phrase may indeed be intended to designate “the Emperor of China and his Ministers” or “all princes and rulers.” We see no objection to including the Emperor of China in the prayers of the church; but is it possible that the native members of St. Stephen’s Church in Hongkong, being British subjects and enjoying the protection of H.M. Government, exclude all mention of the Queen from their version of the Common Book of Prayer. The titles applied to the Queen in the Treaties of Nanking and Tientsin (君主) or in the Convention of Peking in 1860 (大君主) would have been far preferable. Again 我国皇家 for “all the Royal Family” is probably based on a mistake, unless there is a printer’s error here. As to the term question, the following example will show Mr. Hutchinson’s way of dealing with it. He gives 上帝系大嘅神、係極大嘅王、高出諸神之上 as a translation for “the Lord is a great God: and a great King above all gods.” On this showing both the Shangti-ites and the Shin-ites might consider Mr. Hutchinson as on their side. We wonder he did not include the term 天主 likewise in his ingenious compromise.

From The China Review, Or, Notes and Queries on the Far East, Volume Six, 1878, pp. 204-205.


聖公禱文. The Book of Common Prayer. St. Stephen’s Church, Hongkong, 1878.

This is the continuation of the Rev. A. B. Hutchinson’s new translation, in Cantonese Colloquial, of the Book of Common Prayer, comprehending the communion and baptismal services. It is on the whole equal in execution to the preceding part, although in certain passages we noticed the translator frequently falling into a higher style, so that the class of colloquial here given is rather uneven and does not exhibit the same uniformity which distinguished the volume we reviewed before.

From The China Review, Or, Notes and Queries on the Far East, Volume Six, 1878, p. 271.


聖公禱文. The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments and other rites and ceremonies of the Church according to the use of the Church of England; the Psalter or Psalms of David; and the form and manner of making, ordaining and consecrating Bishops. Priests and Deacons. Translated into Cantonese, by the Rev. Arthur B. Hutchinson, Church Missionary Society. Hongkong, 1878.

We have on former occasions noticed detached portions of this work, as they appeared from time to time. The whole is now complete, and we have before us a good-sized volume of 940 pages, forming the first complete translation of the whole Book of Common Prayer into Chinese. We need not new repeat the trifling objections we have raised regarding details of style and expression noticeable here and there. It is on the whole a very creditable performance, and though the number of Cantonese Christians likely to use this volume is not very large, yet it is decidedly on the increase and it will be a great convenience to them to have at last a complete edition of the Book of Common Prayer, translated, as it is, for their benefit in a style which pre-supposes but a very moderate extent of knowledge of the Chinese character and which area admits of reading aloud the prayers of their Church in a way which can scarcely fail to be intelligible to the simplest Christians, men, women or children.

From The China Review, Or, Notes and Queries on the Far East, Volume Six, 1878, p. 414.

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