Two Year Lectionary for the Office of Readings (Updated 3/5/18)

May 3rd, 2018: This remains one of the most visited posts on the blog.

Thank you for visiting!

I have added a second update mid post and a third update at the bottom of the post …

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.

UPDATE: this was the pattern we adopted when I was Head at Trinity, Lewisham. It did not reduce the sheer volume of material to be got through. I would now prefer repetition to quantity and would suggest the Gospel of the Mass of the day at Morning Prayer, again at Mid-Day Prayer (this is the pattern of the Jerusalem Community) and the first reading of the Mass of the Day at Evening Prayer. I always read (aloud) the Gospel of the following day at the end of Compline, the three-fold repetition of the Gospel far from being tedious enhances my prayerful reading/lectio. I try and read from three different translations: Nicholas King at Compline, the Missal (Jerusalem Bible) at Morning Prayer and the Authorised Version at Mid-day Prayer.

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 totally 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 and often for my daily lectio. 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 a 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.

[See update below the post for my latest use

For a number of years now I have taken an idea from Conception Abbey, Missouri, 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.]

UPDATE of 2nd January, 2018:

Having made further study of the Pluscarden/Lulu version of the two-year cycle described above I realise that the substitutions, especially in the seasons, are greater than I had realised. Very often, where a Scripture reading has a linked non-Scripture reading in the Divine Office that reading is used instead of the one in the original Word In Season. This means that for those, like me, who would like to make a three year cycle by using the two-year followed by the series in the one-year, the Pluscarden/Lulu version is less useful. This means that the Word in Season series, which is somewhat difficult to get hold of is a more useful resource.

As a matter of interest in the seasons I like to use the responsories in A Word In Season, which also makes it more useful. In Ordinary Time I use two sections of Psalm 118 (119) as responsories, one after each reading, which works well as a text but also links to the more frequent use of this psalm in the western Office until the reform of 1911 (although most Anglican communities continued to use the earlier distribution of psalms until Vatican 2).

Finally, if you don’t know The Glenstal Book of Readings for the Seasons, it is available on Amazon in print or Kindle form. It is an excellent additional resource, mainly for more contemporary non-Scriptural readings. They are linked to the one-year cycle but not too tightly. I wondered at first if they would wear thin but the readings are of such depth that they last well. I am writing in the days before Epiphany and the von Balthasar readings are providing much to meditate on.

UPDATE 3rd May 2018

I came across a dissertation at Durham University by former Anglican priest John Michael Mountney (I believe he is now an Orthodox Christian) in which he provides useful analysis of the one year cycle of the Office of Readings showing that it omits the following 21 books:

Old Testament

Genesis

Ruth

Ezra

Nehemiah

Judith

Tobit

Song of Songs

Obadiah

Jonah

Micha

Nahum

Zephaniah

Haggai

New Testament(much of this appears in the Daily Eucharistic / Mass lectionary)

Acts

Romans

1 Corinthians

Ephesians

2 Timothy

Titus

Philemon

James

He also provides this useful chart as an overview of the two-year cycle:

I think all this shows how much the two-year cycle is to be preferred to the one-year. Ironically, since the beginning of Lent this year I have been using the one-year cycle – for the first time for many years. I find that because I am travelling away from home so often it is useful to have everything in the Breviary. I just don’t like using an iPad or phone to pray from. Additionally, I am often the guest of clergy and always try and pray with them, the one-year cycle seems to be universally used among the parish clergy, as it is at a surprising number of the monastic communities where I am often a guest.

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3 Comments

  1. I really don’t know how you do it, juggling all these books. My little mind can only deal with The English Office Book although I do have the Latin-French Solesmes books for reference.

    Like

  2. Hello, I am an American considering purchasing the self published Pluscarden lectionary by Jonathan Britt on Lulu. Could you elaborate on how each of the 4 volumes are divided up? I am also confused by the different bible translations. Does each volume use a differen translation? Does each biblical like Isaiah or Romans come from the same translation?

    Thank you if you are able to assist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Devin, they are:
      Volume 1 Year 1 Advent to Eastertime
      Volume 2 Year 1 Ordinary Time
      And volumes 3 and 4 likewise split for Year 2

      The Scripture versions are:
      NRSV
      NEB
      NJB
      Good News
      NAB

      I think but haven’t checked in detail that he uses the same translation for each biblical book as the British edition of the Divine Office uses, except that he uses NRSV instead of RSV and doesn’t use Knox. He hasn’t removed the Divine name YHWH from the NJB selections and he has I assume used a scanner which leaves some mistakes in the text, one volume, I think volume 3, has more of these than the others.
      They are nicely done though. I would recommend them.

      Like

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