In the Fourth Nocturn

New: Lectionary booklets

Synopsis: Lectionaries! Lectionaries! Get your lectionaries here!

For the last few years my preferred table of lessons for the daily office has been the one published by the Church of England in 1961 — a slight revision of the 1922 lectionary found at the front of current editions of the Book of Common Prayer. Like the 1922 lectionary, it is based on the Church year, not the civil calendar year; but it has the following advantages, especially felt in private devotion, over the original:

  • A two-year fixed cycle of Sunday lessons, instead of the free choice of up to three lessons provided by the 1922 lectionary. It might well be realistic for a parson to read all the available options in the 1922 and pick the most appropriate to read at a public service of Mattins or Evensong; when praying privately, one is in practice hamstrung into picking a reading knowing nothing more than the book and chapter, usually picking the first one by default. The 1961’s provision of a two-year cycle on Sundays only is a marked improvement for those who pray the office alone or in small, informal groups. (On the most important days, such as Advent Sunday, Septuagesima, Easter, etc., the significant readings are the same in both years.)
  • The elimination of ‘gospel harmony’ after Trinity in favour of straightforward lectio continua reading of the synoptics, eliminating a lot of back-and-forth switching between the gospels.

However, getting a copy of this lectionary is rather tricky, as it was effectively out of print until recently. John Hunwicke includes it in his Ordo every year; I included it in my office book in 2019; but more recently the 1662 Book of Common Prayer International Edition has included most of it in an appendix as an ‘alternative table of lessons’, somewhat reviving interest in it.

Since I usually carry around and pray from a 1662 pew edition, though, none of these solutions are very convenient. So I’ve made little A6 booklets to slip inside my prayer book, containing the lectionary in worked-out form for each Church year. Maybe you’ll find them useful too!