What is the Lectionary?

A lectionary is a table of readings from Scripture, appointed to be read at public worship.

The association of particular texts with specific days began in the 4th century. The Lectionary [1969, revised 1981] was developed by the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican II provided fora  three-year cycle of Sunday readings. This Roman lectionary provided the basis for the lectionary in The Book of Common Prayer 1979 as well as those developed by many other denominations.

The Common Lectionary, published in 1983, was an ecumenical project of several American and Canadian denominations, developed out of a concern for the unity of the Church and  a desire for a common experience of Scripture. It was intended as a harmonization of the many different denominatoinal approaches to the three-year lectionary.

The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), published in 1992, takes into account constructive criticism of the Common Lectionary based on the evaluation of its trial use. Effective the First Sunday of Advent 2010 (2006 General Convention Resolution A077), the RCL is to replace the Book of Common Prayer lectionary. The RCL preserves about 90& of the Gospel readings in the Lectionary of The Book of Common Prayer, but also provides these new features:

  • An option for the semi-continuous read of the great Old Testament narratives on the Sundays after Pentecost
  • An option of lections in thematic harmony with the Gospel of the day for the Sundays after Pentecost
  • The inclusion of women and their role in salvation history

About Sharon Ely Pearson

Editor and Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated
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