Work in Progress on the BCP App, March 2023

Work in Progress on the BCP App

(A report by the Very Revd. Chris Dow, the chairman of the BCP App Development Committee.)

After receiving numerous requests over the past two years, we have begun work to add the 1967 Recueil des Prières (RdP) to the app. This is the French-language translation of our 1962 Prayer Book. Since much of the RdP was already available online, our developer was able to copy it into the app quite easily.

The one significant portion of the RdP that is not available in useable Unicode text is the Psautier (the Psalter). However, because it is viewable in PDF graphics, our developer was able to use optical character recognition (OCR) software to scan these images, extract the text, and convert it into Unicode text that we can use for the app. But while OCR is impressive technology and a great time-saving convenience, it does not produce perfect results. Thus, we have recruited five French-speaking volunteers to comb through the OCR-scanned text of the Psautier, looking for various imperfections: missing words, spelling errors and erroneous punctuation marks. Their task is to compare the OCR-extracted text with the original in the PDF graphic files and make the necessary corrections in the text file. This is painstaking, detail-oriented and time-consuming work.

The volunteers are also adding verse numbers to the Psalms, as one oddity of the RdP is that the Psautier’s verses are not numbered. Also, as the RdP Psautier omits the same imprecatory verses as the 1962 Psalter, the app will give users the option to re-insert them, as we have done with the English text. These missing verses will be supplied from the 1958 Bible de Jérusalem, which is the original source of the entire 1967 RdP Psautier.

We plan to give users the option to select French as the global language in the app. Thus, not only will the liturgy appear in French, but the entire user interface will as well, including the menu items, side-bar tabs, settings, etc. Our volunteers are working collaboratively to translate all these terms into French. I am especially thankful to the Revd. Ben von Bredow for taking the lead in this volunteer effort to edit the Psautier and translate the menu items.

We have received permission from the French Bible Society to access the full text of the 1910 Louis Segond Bible through the Digital Bible Library (DBL). This classic French Bible translation is often likened to the King James and will be the default French version for the First and Second Lessons at Matins and Evensong. Although the Louis Segond is in the public domain and available online from various sites, the DBL is the best and most reliable source, and it allows us to download the complete biblical text into the app for offline use. We are thankful for the French Bible Society’s generosity in allowing us to do this for free. We also hope to add a more contemporary French Bible version, but a suitable option is proving to be more difficult to find in digital format.

Finally, we approached the Dean of Montreal, the Very Revd. Bertrand Olivier, and asked him to translate the prayer ‘For Reconciliation with the Jews’ (FRJ) into French. He gladly obliged and we are thankful for his translation, which is as follows:

“O DIEU, qui as choisi Israël pour en faire ton héritage, aie pitié de nous et pardonne-nous la violence et la méchanceté que nous avons commises envers notre frère Jacob; l’arrogance de nos coeurs et de nos esprits nous a trompés, et la honte a couvert notre visage. Ôte de nous tout orgueil et tout préjugé, et accorde-nous, avec le peuple que tu as fait tien le premier, de parvenir à la plénitude de la rédemption que tu as promise, à l’honneur et à la gloire de ton très saint Nom. Amen.”

We may wait until the (hopefully perfunctory) approval of FRJ at this summer’s General Synod before adding its French translation to the app.

The RdP has long been out of print and copies are rare finds. This project will make the RdP widely accessible to users for free. We pray that this will be a blessing to French-speaking Anglicans in Canada and beyond, as well as those from other church traditions looking for a French-language prayer resource. The development of this feature will cost the PBSC $2,500, but the PBSC National Council believes that it will be money well spent.

“VIENS en aide, Seigneur de miséricorde, à nous qui t’implorons: dirige-nous vers le salut éternel, et dans l’instabilité de ce monde défends-nous sans cesse par le secours de ta grâce; par Jésus-Christ notre Seigneur. Amen.” (Collect for the Rogation Days)

Regarding other potential developments, we are planning to add the Penitential Service to the app. The rubrics on page 611 of the BCP allow for it to be used as a stand-alone service or as an addition to Matins and Evensong. The estimated cost for this is $150. We are also looking at adding the Labrador Inuttitut Heritage Bible (LIHB) as an option within the app. Some Inuit cherish the classic LIHB in much the same way as many English speakers do the King James Version. I am quite certain the Canadian Bible Society would allow us to use the text of the LIHB from the Digital Bible Library for free.

We welcome donations in support of this work, and we would appreciate your prayers for this ongoing effort and especially for our volunteers.

Work in Progress on the BCP App, March 2023