Nishga Scripture Selections 1890, 1897 (Canada) (NCG)


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Nisga’a (formerly spelled Nishga and Nišga) is an indigenous Canadian language spoken in north-western British Columbia near the Nass River. It is closely related and physically adjacent to Gitxsan.

The earliest linguistic work in Nisga’a was conducted by James Benjamin McCullagh who published "A Nishg̓a Version of Portions of the Book of Commmon Prayer" in 1890, and then a Primer in 1897. It included liturgical material as well as hymns.

James Benjamin McCullagh (1854–1921)

McCullagh was an Anglican missionary in British Columbia; he worked under the supervision of the Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS). McCullagh was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1890 by the Bishop of Caledonia. His missionary and educational work was centered on the mission village of Aiyansh, British Columbia.

1890 Nishga Prayer Book

Anglican missionary James Benjamin McCullagh conducted much early linguistic work in Nisga’a, preparing a translation of part of the Book of Common Prayer published in 1890. This include some selection of Scripture namely: Psalms 41:1, 51:3, 51:9, 51:17, 67, 95, 98, 100, 143:2; Proverbs 19:19; Jeremiah 10:24; Ezekiel 18:27; Daniel 9:9-10; Joel 2:13; Matthew 3:2, 5:1-12 (Beatitudes), 5:16, 6:20, 7:12, 7:21, 11:28; Luke 1:46-55 (Magnificat), 1:68-79 (Benedictus), 2:29-32 (Nunc Domittis), 2:2-4 (Lord’s Prayer); John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 9:7, 11, 13-14, 11:24-25; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, 13:14; Galatians 6:6, 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:15, 6:7, 6:17; Hebrews 6:10, 13:16; 1 John 1:8-9, 3:17 and a metrical form of Psalm 23 in the hymns.

1897 Primer

In 1897 McCullagh produced the "Nišg̓a Primer" for students. By then he had adopted the š letter instead of “sh”, which he described as ‘equals s in sure’; and the letter ʻl, which was an el with top left hook, where he had previously used “lth”, which he described as ‘equals Welsh “ll”’.

The Primer included some selections of Scripture namely: Leviticus 19:18; Psalms 1 and 23; Matthew 5:1-12; Romans 12:19 and 1 John 2:1-11.

Digital Edition

These two publications were published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK). Scripture selections from the 1890 Nishga Book of Common Prayer and 1897 Nishga Primer were digitised for the Canadian Bible Society, with the help of MissionAssist in May 2020. Note that for digital edition the spellings were harmonised to use the orthography in the 1897 Primer. The Scripture selections were then sorted in canonical order. 


Canadian Bible Society

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