Two Year Lectionary for the Office of Readings

Anglican lectionaries for the Daily Office have tended to provide three or four Scripture readings of some length each day. For those of us who also use the daily Mass readings this is a rather large amount of material to read. Of course, it is possible to simply omit one or more of the readings but this spoils the integrity of the lectionary and its coverage of Scripture. The lectionary for the Office of Readings in the Roman Rite is designed to accompany the Mass lectionary, avoiding duplication, and provides just one lengthy reading a day. There is a two-year cycle and a one year cycle. The Scripture references for these cycles may be found, for example, in the CTS New Catholic Bible (Jerusalem Bible with Grail Psalter). The printed versions of the Roman Office, such as The Divine Office, include the full texts of the readings but only for the one-year cycle. The Office of Readings also includes a cycle of second readings from the Christian tradition. In the two year cycles available they generally provide a commentary on the preceding Scripture reading, the one-year cycle of non Scripture readings is more loosely matched. Resources from the Anglican tradition for non-Scriptural readings are discussed below.

Tables of Scripture Readings: Two-Year Cycle for the Office of Readings

(Tables provided by Russ Stutler)

Year 1 part 1

Year 1 part 2

Year 2 part 1

Year 2 part 2

For those using Common Worship: Daily Prayer, the three readings of Mass and Office of Readings Lectionary could be spread across two or three Hours in the day, Gospel at Morning Prayer, first reading at Daytime Prayer and the reading for the Office of Readings at Evening Prayer, or whatever arrangement suits best.

The Office of Readings and its lectionaries were prepared in the reform of the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council. If you haven’t read Annibale Bugnini’s, The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975, you should. It’s bugnini_coltotally fascinating. In the LTP 1990 edition pages 533 ff. deals with the preparation of the Office lectionary for use at the Office of Readings. Originally only a two-year cycle was produced, it was when the practicality of printing the whole of the Office and the lectionary together was faced that the idea of a single year lectionary was suggested. Unfortunately it’s clear that this was done rather hastily, and, of course, pre-word processing, by literally cutting and pasting.
As far as I know only the German version of the Office contained the two-year cycle (in a series of booklets that slip into the main volumes), elsewhere, to stop the volumes going beyond four (in English three), the one year cycle was adopted. The Benedictines included the two-year pattern in their Thesaurus and many, perhaps most, monasteries use it.

In France, Solesmes have produced a separate edition in six volumes of the two year cycle 2230.jpgcomplete with Patristic readings: Lectionnaire pour chaque jour de l’année, Solesmes / CERF  2005. This is a translation of their Latin edition – I only wish either my French or Latin was good enough to make use of them.
In the United States six volumes of Christian Readings were published by Catholic Book Publishing in 1972 (reprints can be bought on AbeBooks). These are excellent, they print the text of the two-year readings in the NAB version and a non-Scriptural reading, not necessarily Patristic, sometimes the second reading relates to the Gospel of the Mass of the day rather than the Office reading. Every reading is also provided with a short introductory paragraph to set it in context or to talk about the author; I find these very helpful.

The English Benedictines also produced a set of volumes for the two-year lectionary, A Word in Season, Augustinian Press, 2nd edition 1999. These contain the Scriptural references but not texts; and texts of second readings, mostly patristic, but a number from more contemporary sources. These volumes contain responsories for each reading. Copies of some volumes are available from Stanbrook Abbey bookshop and occasionally come up on AbeBooks. There is an especially good representation of English spiritual writers.

 Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland produced a set of Word documents for the two year cycle, using the RSV text for the Scripture readings and a set of second readings. The work was mainly done by the then Prior, Fr Stephen Holmes, now a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church. The second reading lectionary is heavily based on A Word in Season but all the readings are Patristic. When no reading could be found to relate to the scriptural reading they tend to use a text on general monastic themes, which are sometimes a little out of place in a non-monastic context.

The Pluscarden lectionary has been self-published in four volumes by Jonathan Britt, on Lulu. Although he uses the same Bible translations for each book as the Divine Office:  New Jerusalem, New English, Good News, New American and NRSV.
I have downloaded all of the Pluscarden documents into the folder ‘Lectionaries’, on Company of Voices Resources – scroll to near the bottom of the page.

The Centre for Catholic Studies in Durham has produced a newly formatted version of this lectionary here including the readings dovetailed Scripture/non-Scriptural as used.

Many additional resources are also available. For saints days Anglicans will wish to use Celebrating the Saints, Canterbury Press. For Sundays Celebrating Sundays provides non-Scriptural readings geared to the Sunday Gospels originally designed for use at the monastic vigil Office when the Gospel is read – another resource created by Fr Stephen Holmes. The readings work just as well at the Office of Readings as the second reading. The English Benedictines produced a three volume set of these called Christ Our Light in 1979, and later republished as Journey with the Fathers, New City Press 1994 without the responsories.  A further three volume set Meditations on the Sunday Gospels edited by Augustinian John Rotelle (New City 1995) has second readings from mainly non-Patristic Sources including twentieth-century authors. Rotelle also edited Augustine on the Sunday Gospels (Augustinian Press, 1998 ) another extremely useful source which I go to every week for sermon preparation. Rotelle had worked on the original two-year Patristic cycle produced by Bugnini’s Consilium which was never published (see Bugnini, p.542). Henry Ashworth a Benedictine (Quarr) also worked on this and he was partly responsible for the A Word in Season series.

Celebrating the Seasons is an excellent one year cycle of non-Scriptural readings for the Office with many texts from Anglican sources. I also like The Fourth Lesson in the Daily Office, DLT 1974, edited by Christopher Campling. It provides series of readings many from Anglican and most from modern sources, these normally extend in a sequence over several days which is sometimes a relief from the stand-alone chunks provided in other sources. Prayer Book Spirituality, Church Hymnal Corporation 1989, ed. J. Robert Wright, has a great series of readings in the Anglican tradition, many of which would be suitable for reading aloud. The much neglected Anglicanism, SPCK 1935, ed. Paul Elmer More and Frank Leslie Cross can be mined for readings, as can Kenneth Stevenson’s magnificent Love’s Redeeming Work. The Customary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham also has a large number of readings designed for use at the Daily Office for many celebrations of saints and most Sundays and Festivals in the seasons they are sometimes a little long and often rather dense (Victorian Anglo-Catholic) prose but well worth using.

For a number of years now I have taken an idea from Conception Abbey, Missourri, and combined the two-year cycle at the Office of Readings with the one year cycle printed in The Divine Office, to make a three-year cycle, every third year I don’t need additional books and I don’t miss out on the treasures in the Breviary.

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