A wealth of lectionaries

October 16, 2013

Read the main article on alternatives to the common lectionary.

The Consultation on Common Texts recently released a 20th anniversary edition of the Revised Common Lectionary (Fortress, 2012), which includes annotations, historical materials and indexes. A separate daily lectionary, Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, was published by Fortress in 2006. The RCL is also available at the CCT’s website, among other places.

The Roman Ordo Lectionum Missae was revised in 1981 and then translated into various languages. The current English-language version for U.S. use came out in 1998 (various publishers); it is available online from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Narrative Lectionary’s four years are available at Luther Seminary’s Working Preacher site, along with commentaries and basic worship resources.

The African American Lectionary website will soon begin posting its seventh year of materials. These include thematic calendars, commentaries and extensive resources for worship planning.

Some of The Open-Source Lectionary materials are at the project's website. The complete project is available as a self-published book (The Open Source Lectionary: Preaching Outside the Box, CreateSpace, 2011).

Year D’s lections and introductory materials are posted at the project's website. Annotations and additional materials are in Year D: A Quadrennial Supplement to the Revised Common Lectionary (Cascade, 2012). A volume of liturgical resources, also by Timothy Matthew Slemmons, is forthcoming from Cascade.

The Joint Liturgical Group is a British parallel to the Consultation on Common Texts. In 1967 it put out a two-year lectionary—with readings following from weekly themes—that was adopted widely in the U.K. (The Calendar and Lectionary, Oxford University Press, 1967). In 1990 it produced a major revision generally known as JLG-2, a four-year lectionary that adopted the Ordo Lectionum Missae and the Common Lectionary’s general approach and added a John year (A Four-Year Lectionary, Canterbury, 1990).

The Uncommon Lectionary is a two-year lectionary created by Thomas G. Bandy. The first year is the “Seeker Cycle”; the second is the “Disciple Cycle” (Introducing the Uncommon Lectionary, Abingdon, 2006).

In Beyond the Lectionary (Circle, 2013), UCC pastor David J. Ackerman offers a proposal similar to Year D: a fourth year of lections made up of texts the Revised Common Lectionary omits. Ackerman also includes commentaries and brief prayers for each week.

Robert Thomas Quisenberry’s D.Min. project at Columbia Theological Seminary is a fourth-year proposal focused specifically on the Old Testament (“Gleanings from the Old Testament for the Modern Christian Pulpit: A Lectionary Year D Focusing on Unused or Forgotten Passages,” 2009).

Steven Odom created a four-year lectionary/RCL revision as a D.Min. project at the Graduate Theological Foundation (“Revising the Revised Common Lectionary: A Four-Year Lectionary for Use in the Churches,” 1994).


An alternative to multi-year lectionaries

In a 1972 article on the use of the deuterocanonical texts in the Luthean lectionary, which he favored, Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1907-73) of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis  wrote this:"I confess that I share the view of those that feel that world Lutheran ties are more important than American solidarity. Quite apart from this, however, I have basic misgivings about the use of a three-year cycle of pericopes. With the irregular attendance of many of our people at divine worship and with the general lack of preparation for the service on the part of many of the worshipers that do come, I feel that a three-year cycle or even a two-year cycle would mean that many of our people would in the end be less well acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures than they are now. At the same time I believe that there is virtue in a three-year cycle of sermon texts. I hope, therefore, that the commission will give the church a permanent option between the revised historic one-year cycle and a three-year cycle of pericopes, but make the three-year cycle available for sermon texts."

Fifty years after by ordination, I agree with him. The article is in The Sacred Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, Vol. 2 in "Selected Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn," Philip J. Secker, ed. CEC Press, 2007, pp. 5-13, here p. 13. www.piekorn.org.

Philip James Secker

Mansfield, CT