In the Fourth Nocturn


On this page I’m collecting links and files which are useful to me for various reasons. Maybe they’ll be useful to you too.


Mass Lectionary

Advocacy of the One-Year Lectionary

Each resource is summarized, either in my own words or with a ‘money quote’ from the article itself, after the link. I’ve tried to de-emphasize traditionalist perspectives by moving them further down this list. It’s most interesting, and hopeful, when people who are otherwise on board with the 20th century liturgical renewals recover the classic lectionary for themselves!

  • ‘A Lectionary and Additional Collects for Holy Communion (Book of Common Prayer)’ in Common Worship (Church of England)

    Fully authorized lectionary providing an additional Old Testament lesson and gradual psalm for every feast and fast in the 1662 lectionary, and full propers for some additional feasts. These, or the original 1662 lectionary, can be used at Common Worship services.

    The SPCK publishes this in worked-out form annually, in the same volume as their lectionary almanac of the RCL readings.

  • ‘Why the RCL is killing churches, and what you can do about it’, Matthew S. C. Oliver, 1 July 2016, Covenant.

    ‘The RCL sometimes proposes texts that are superficially “at odds” with each other, creating theological tensions that the preacher must then attempt to solve or leave unaddressed.’ … ‘Public recitation of these huge swathes of Scripture, all of which are basically unrelated to each other, can easily have a detrimental effect on nascent faith.’

  • ‘One year with the 1928 lectionary’, Drew Nathaniel Keane, 22 December 2017, Covenant.

    N.B. The U.S. 1928 lectionary, essentially the same as the 1662 lectionary.

    ‘With less text at each service to mark, learn, and inwardly digest, I found it far more likely that the sermon would touch on everything read and that I would walk out of the service remembering it. Less proved to be more.’ … ‘I also began to feel a more thematic unity across the Propers. This unity is something I often wanted but felt was lacking in the RCL.’

  • ‘Discipling children: a problem with the three-year lectionary’, Richard Peers, 3 January 2019, Quodcumque: Serious Christianity.

    Modern pedagogical techniques emphasize repetition, which the current three-year Sunday lectionary (especially with the addition of the weekday lectionary) does not provide at all; proposes five solutions, of which only the fifth, adoption of the historic one-year lectionary, is really practical.

  • ‘Vatican II and the Destruction of the Western Liturgy’, Derek Olsen, 31 March 2007, St Bede Productions.

    ‘It wasn’t the vernacular that did it in but the three year lectionary … Formerly the Mass and Office were on a common one-year calendar. No longer.’

  • ‘Reading the Bible as a Church’, Gavin Dunbar, 20 October 2013, Anglican Way Magazine.

    ‘Despite the reverence for the ancient liturgy professed by contemporary liturgists, the new Anglican liturgies scrap an actual ancient lectionary that has been in continuous use since late antiquity for an entirely modern construct, in which the doctrinal coherence of each Sunday’s proclamation is much diminished, or even abandoned altogether.’

  • ‘Save the lectionary, save the world’, Andrew Sabisky, 2 June 2018, Excvbitor.

    The three-year lectionary has destroyed the coherence of the whole series of propers, making services thematically chaotic and the individual lessons, including the gospel, essentially immemorable. ‘St Augustine and Luther wrote sermons on the same texts for the same Sunday, a marvellous sign of the invisible continuity of the Church over time and space, despite the cruelties of schisms. A Bach cantata, though composed for the Lutheran context, can usually be more or less directly transplanted to the Roman or Anglican context, and it still fits perfectly [because of the historic one-year lectionary].’

  • ‘Confessions of a one year lectionary convert’, Mark Surburg, 27 January 2014, Surburg’s Blog.

    N.B. Of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, very similar to the 1662 lectionary.

Office Lectionary

  • The Church of England’s 1922 Revised Table of Lessons in CSV format: proper of time; proper of saints.

    This possibly contains errors; it has not been extensively checked. I would appreciate error reports. It should be machine-readable, so you could use this to build a 1922 lectionary version of a daily office app, for instance.

  • The Church of England’s 1961 Table of Lessons in CSV format, based on the above: proper of time; proper of saints.

    This has been slightly better checked than the previous. The portions which are identical, or very similar to, the 1922 lectionary should be entirely correct; the rest might contain a few more errors.

    The rules for Year I and Year II are identical to most current two-year lectionaries: when Advent Sunday falls in an even-numbered year, Year I is used; when it falls in an odd-numbered year, Year II is used. An easier way to remember is that the parity of the lectionary year used is the same as the parity of the calendar year which makes up the larger part of the ecclesiastical year. On the days which, in my CSV table, have lessons appointed for Year I but not Year II, there are no separate lessons appointed for both years and the same lessons are used every year. (This includes all but one of the weekdays of the year, and some of the major Sundays and holy-days as well.)

    Note an additional caveat with this lectionary: the Old Testament lessons for the 26th Sunday after Trinity are always used beginning on the Monday before the Sunday Next before Advent.

    The 1961 lectionary also gave some additional lessons for certain purposes (such as Remembrance Sunday and Corpus Christi, which, following the appendix to the 1928 prayer book (still in wide use at the time), was allowed to be celebrated as ‘Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion’ at any time of year). Additionally, canonical alternatives were provided for the apocryphal lessons appointed in the lectionary for the Sundays from the 21st Sunday after Trinity onwards. Both are reproduced in non-machine-readable format here.

    Note that I’m not sure of the authorization status of this lectionary. The consensus seems to be that it no longer enjoys direct authorization under Canon B2, but it’s not clear when explicit authorization was withdrawn. It appears to have been removed from the SPCK almanac beginning with the 1981–2 ecclesiastical year (1980–1 almanac with it vs 1981–2 apparently without). But it is almost certainly still legal, as a variation of the 1922 lectionary above, under Canon B5 (note e.g. that the definition of ‘form of service’ used in the canons explicitly includes ‘the lessons designated in any Table of Lessons’). This is the justification used by John Hunwicke to continue publishing the 1961 lessons in his own annual almanac. We may have confirmation of this from the House of Bishops in their resolution of 28 January 1988, confirming all that all forms of service authorized since 1965 were, at the time, allowed under Canon B5. Therefore if at any time after 1965 General Synod gave an explicit re-authorization to this lectionary (for example, to bring its authorization status into line with the alternative services measures passed between 1965 and 1974), the 1961 lectionary has authority from the House of Bishops to continue in use.