Book of Common Prayer

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Apr 26 2011 1:00 PM

Thanks to today's Blog post on The Thomas Cranmer Collection  I started looking at The Book Common of Prayer.  It wasn't long before I noticed that in my library I have two - Book of Common Prayer (1979) Sunday Lectionary & Book of Common Prayer (1979) Daily Office Lectionary.

Aside from the fact that one seems to have only Sunday readings and the other seems to have readings for every day of the year... what is the difference? 

The Sunday readings don't line up on "today's reading"  One is year ABC the other is year 1,2.  

Can someone help this non-liturgical - non-Lutheran low church pastor get a grip?

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 26 2011 1:04 PM

 I thought I had my own answer when I saw that BCPSunday said on the title page: 

 

This lectionary resource is derived from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church (USA). In 2007, the Episcopal Church adopted the Revised Common Lectionary.

Emphasis added....

So I popped open my copy of the Revised Common Lectionary and promptly noticed that it's Sunday only readings don't appear to line up with the Sunday readings in BCP Sunday.    Confused

 

 

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 26 2011 1:25 PM

And.... one more thing.  I'm reading and re-reading the notes following up my comments here: http://community.logos.com/forums/p/19069/144216.aspx#144216 to try and wrap my head around Lectionaries again. (Especially MJ's comments.)  No I haven't sufficiently done this yet and Until I get my little head bent into the right position I don't know if I can.  

Maybe I'm just getting over bogged down on minutia but of the 9 lectionaries I currently own I'm not sure which one I'm most interested in getting to know personally (so to speak).

So I've decided to make a lectionary workspace with all of them. :-)

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 26 2011 1:36 PM

Thomas!            Peace and every blessing!

                         *smile*

           Your life will indeed be enriched as you spend a bit of time with that layout!

Good idea!      I use the 3 year LSB lectionary very, very regularly; however I think with a layout that had all the lectionaries, I might profit also by exploring what others have done.

                          Probably MJ is the expert in this area.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 26 2011 4:41 PM

Introduction to lectionaries:

  • lectionary is just a fancy name for reading plans. They assign the readings of "lections a.k.a. pericopes" to particular services or dates.
  • lectionaries were used by the time of Ezra to spread the continuous reading of the Torah out across 3 years (or very quickly, 1 year).
  • Jewish lectionaries start with the Torah as the driving force with readings from the prophets being selected on the basis of the Torah reading.
  • Jewish feasts have their own set of readings that are independent of the annual cycle of the Torah
  • The lectionary does not include all the scripture used in a synagogue service e.g. the psalms

Christian lectionaries:

  • Christian lectionaries grew out to the synagogue practice - some scholars see evidence of the Torah cycle in the structure of the Gospels
  • Christian lectionaries used the Gospel as the primary text around which other texts were selected
  • Readings from books can be continuous (you pick up the next verse), semi-continuous (you read the text in order but may skip parts) or non-continuous (what you read is based on relationships to other readings not on text sequence)
  • Historically across the breadth of Christianity, the number of readings has ranged from 2 (Gospel and Epistle) to 7 (no I can't name them all off the top of my head).
  • Lectionaries provide additional context for studying Scripture - the relationship between the pericopes selected for a given day and the relationship between the readings for this service and the prior/next services
  • Certain scriptures have been used for the same purpose across all liturgical churches for at least 1600 years - The Man Born Blind, the Woman at the Well, the Raising of Lazarus as the final weeks before welcoming new members into the Church at Easter.

Contemporary Catholic and RCL lectionaries:

  • starting about 1880 and reaching fruition in the 1950's, a number of churches that had dropped lectionaries began to use them again - the ones I know best are Methodist and Presbyterian
  • When the three year Sunday cycle Roman Catholic lectionary was published, these churches decided that the Catholic lectionary was better than what they had developed - and in some cases not yet implemented.
  • Lutheran and Anglican lectionaries had remained essentially compatible with the Catholic lectionary so everyone climbed onto the bandwagon to create the Common Lectionary. The Lutherans quickly discovered the major problem - Catholics were heavily into Wisdom literature readings and Lutherans were heavily into Old Testament narrative. So the Revised Common Lectionary was born - for the Sundays after Pentecost and before Advent there is a thread of readings that stress narratives and a thread that stress wisdom literature.
  • The RCL has selected readings for the seasons - Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter - that reflect the long historical use of readings. In ordinary time, the Gospel and the Epistle are both semi-continuous readings. The Old Testament reading is selected based upon the Gospel. The Psalm is chosen for its relationship to the Old Testament reading or the Gospel.
  • Each of the three years emphasizes a specific Gospel; there are some British lectionaries that use a four year cycle - giving John its own year rather than just seasons (and filling in for Mark which runs rather short).
  • Even if the pastor chooses to preach on only one of the texts, the homily is still influenced by the other readings for the day - the set of readings for the service set the tone for the service

Non-primary Sunday services lectionaries:

  • In the Catholic tradition, the weekday lectionary is independent of the Sunday cycle; the new RCL weekday cycle is tied to the Sunday readings. The first half of the week the readings point back to the previous Sunday's readings; the second half of the week points forward to the upcoming Sunday. This provides a seven day set of readings which are read and interpreted in the context of the entire set.
  • Lectionaries have two calendar cycles reflected in them - the liturgical year and the sanctoral cycle (the calendar of feast days of Saints). Different religious orders, geographical regions and "denomination" can determine which readings are used. There are also special purpose "votive" readings that are used for funerals, weddings, times of natural disaster, etc.
  • Lectionaries (under other names) in the Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran traditions also provide readings for Morning and Evening Prayer (or a full Liturgy of the Hours). The Office of Readings comes uses continuous and semi-continuous readings to go through most of the Bible. There are many variations on the Morning and Evening Prayer books to reflect the needs of everyone from a monastic to a busy professional to a young child.

Miscellaneous observations:

  • Many churches have lectionaries not built from the Catholic or RCL models; several churches retain the old one year lectionary of Late Medieval/Trent times.
  • Some churches allow the use of short, special purpose lectionaries for Season of the Earth or ecumenical purposes.
  • Specially regarding Catholics - if you attend only Sunday services, over the space of a year you will hear (semi-continuously) one Gospel, three or four epistles, and 52 Old Testament passages. If you attend Sunday and weekday services, you will hear all four Gospels and several Old Testament books and New Testament Epistles. If you pray the Office of Readings, you will add reading through the Bible (minus the Gospels 'cause they are everywhere else) every two years.
  • With the exception of the responsorial psalm mentioned above, none of the use of psalms has been mentioned - one used to go through the Psalms weekly, now it takes a month - they appear not only in the Liturgy of the Hours which includes all the psalms, but selected psalms are used as responsorial psalms and antiphons through the services - how many and how long varies widely.
  • Strengths of the lectionary system: readings are always in the context of other scripture (scripture interprets scripture); there is a seasonal flow through the Scripture that reflects the chronology of Jesus' life - ingraining his life in your psyche; the pastor cannot simply choose his favorite passages - the wisdom of nearly 2000 years experience goes into selecting readings that feed/form the congregation

Any questions?

 

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 26 2011 4:46 PM

Thomas Black:
So I popped open my copy of the Revised Common Lectionary and promptly noticed that it's Sunday only readings don't appear to line up with the Sunday readings in BCP Sunday.  

Anglican's have a fair amount of flexibility. They can use the BCP readings (closely related to the Lutheran and Catholic lectionary of the reformation period), the RCL readings and I believe also the Joint Commission on Liturgy's lectionaries (I may be wrong on the latter). They do have their own flavor of the RCL which you can see on The Text This Week.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 26 2011 6:03 PM

Thank you, M.J.              !!!!                  *smile*

well-done, of course -- as usual!

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Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 6:30 AM

MJ. Smith:
Any questions?
 Martha!  This is my most favorite post!  Thank you thank you thank you.  I'm sure I could have figured it out but you've distilled for me the conundrum I'm facing in getting my head around this topic and you've finally got me to understand your fascination with them.  Big Smile

I have no doubt that I will have many more questions as I go.  

Now then as I understand the answer to my original question: Re: the difference between BCP Daily and BCP Sunday  I'm still curious why the Sunday Readings don't line up in them - since they purport to be of the same line?

I get that one follows the three synoptics (A,B,C) and the other is Year 1,2  - forgive my thickness here but what is year 1 & 2 based upon?  

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 6:42 AM

MJ.

This is amazingly helpful - many thanks for doing this.

Graham

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 7:19 AM

Coupled with this post from last year:First draft of suggestion for Logos

And this one: Suggestion: Why Lectionaries matter to you (← Required reading)

I should have already had a better grip.  ;-)

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 7:27 AM

Further inquiry regarding the BCP:

Allow me to reveal yet more ignorance.  I began looking for some of the "celebrated" readings in the BCP such as for instance the renowned burial formula which I find elsewhere always aluded to as being from the BCP:

FORASMUCH as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.

Only thing: I note that it is not in either of my BCP lectionaries which leads me to the inevitable choice of conclusions thus:

(A) the BCP in question is not the same BCP that I have before me as a lectionary

or

(B) the BCP before me is incomplete.

 

Incidentally I feel cheated not having grown up with some of the richness of all of this that I'm discovering.

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Louis St. Hilaire | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 9:23 AM

Thomas Black:

(A) the BCP in question is not the same BCP that I have before me as a lectionary

or

(B) the BCP before me is incomplete.

 

Yes to both. Our BCP lectionaries are from the 1979 Episcopal (i.e. U.S.) Book of Common Prayer. The most well-known Book of Common Prayer is the 1662 Anglican (i.e. Church of England) BCP. A good resource on the many versions of the BCP be found here.

The Book of Common Prayer contains a whole order of worship for the Eucharist, the Daily Office, Marriage, Funerals, Holy Orders, etc. including two orders of readings--one for Sunday Eucharist and one for daily Morning and Evening Prayer.

We've just taken these two orders of readings from the BCP and turned them into lectionaries--i.e. books that contain only the scriptural readings used in worship, not the entire BCP.

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SteveF | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 9:45 AM

Thomas Black:
I get that one follows the three synoptics (A,B,C) and the other is Year 1,2  - forgive my thickness here but what is year 1 & 2 based upon?  

As this has not been commented on in this thread...It is my understanding that "Years" 1 2 or 3 are the "same" as Cycle (or Year) A B & C

 

Regards, SteveF

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Louis St. Hilaire | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 9:53 AM

Thomas Black:

This lectionary resource is derived from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church (USA). In 2007, the Episcopal Church adopted the Revised Common Lectionary.

Emphasis added....

So I popped open my copy of the Revised Common Lectionary and promptly noticed that it's Sunday only readings don't appear to line up with the Sunday readings in BCP Sunday.    Confused

 

Right. The Book of Common Prayer 1979 Sunday Lectionary contains the order of readings from the 1979 BCP of the U.S. Episcopal Church--a modern 3-year cycle, similar to, but not identical with the RCL.

The Episcopal Church abandoned this order of readings when it adopted the RCL (with some variations) in 2007, so the purpose of this note is to warn you that this lectionary may no longer match what you'll most likely hear at an Episcopal Church next Sunday.

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SteveF | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 9:54 AM

MJ. Smith:
the pastor cannot simply choose his favorite passages -

I (a "Baptist") was not raised in any type of "lectionary" reading churches.

However as a pastor (since 1975) I discovered very early that in looking for weekly sermon topic material it was very easy/tempting to pick my own "favorite" texts. By making use of the lectionary (in a very NON-"slavish" way) it has both greatly helped me to expand my own knowledge of the Bible and to keep and create interest in "the pew".

[Thomas, Over the years I have so appreciated your website, and your Forum & News Group contributions. All the best on your "Lectionary" journey of discovery!]

[And thank you also to "MJ" - not only for for keeping this (lectionary topic) before us - but also in the "spirit" in which you do this. ]

Regards, SteveF

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Louis St. Hilaire | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 10:31 AM

Thomas Black:
Now then as I understand the answer to my original question: Re: the difference between BCP Daily and BCP Sunday  I'm still curious why the Sunday Readings don't line up in them - since they purport to be of the same line?

They're for use at different liturgies. The Sunday BCP lectionary contains readings for use at Sunday Eucharist, the daily lectionary contains readings for use at Morning and Evening Prayer services (the "Daily Office").

I don't know too many specifics about the Anglican/Episcopalian tradition, but generally speaking, the daily office or liturgy of hours is primarily structured around the praying of the Psalms, and, while there are often correspondences, the readings are on an independent cycle from the readings at the Eucharistic liturgy.

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nicky crane | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 12:25 PM

Thomas Black:
FORASMUCH as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself 

That's a prayer, not a Bible reading, so will not appear in a lectionary, tho it might appear in the old BCP prayerbook.

I do 1/2 my Bible study based on the Sunday readings in the Catholic lectionary, as I worship with the Catholics, as a good Anglican(...).  The other half is based on what we are doing in our Bible storying in our Muslim village.  I appreciate the Church's year, with the high points of Christmas and Easter, preceded by the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent, as we prepare to celebrate anew Christ's coming into the world, and think ahead to his Second Coming, and then his suffering, death and Resurrection.  Then Pentecost.  After which we calm down, move into the liturgical colour of green, signifying growth, and have a quiet period which gives us the chance to grow, undistracted most of the time by the high points of the big feasts, and the old year culminates with the feast of Christ the KIng.  Until we come round to the beginning of the next liturgical year with Advent.

We tend to celebrate after the actual feasts in our village.  Partly because things always happen to make us late, like me being away or people being ill.  So we are celebrating Easter with the children this Saturday, and with the adults mid May, as I'm away next week.  Another reason for delay is that the men and boys working in Greece usually come home for Easter and New Year, so people's houses are full, not only with their returning menfolk or families, but also with visitors, and in Albanian culture you may leave your family but there are some guests you just don't leave.  So celebrations are always poorly attended when the boys are home.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 2:07 PM

SteveF:
..It is my understanding that "Years" 1 2 or 3 are the "same" as Cycle (or Year) A B & C

You are correct with a minor caveat that is strictly Catholic. For Catholics the weekdays have a two year cycle while Sundays have a three year cycle. 1 & 2 reference the weekday cycle. A & B & C reference the Sunday cycle. For the RCL and its daily lectionary you are absolutely right.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 2:25 PM

MJ. Smith:
For Catholics the weekdays have a two year cycle while Sundays have a three year cycle. 1 & 2 reference the weekday cycle. A & B & C reference the Sunday cycle.
 Ah so this explains it - a two year cycle on the daily BCP and the three year Sunday cycyle on the other BCP.  This has been a wonderful thread for me, thank you all so much for the information.  Sitting in hospital rooms today with parishoners my mind has been contemplating much of this, so this just adds to my brain-fodder for a bit.

EDIT:

I have a follow up and still related question which I HESITATE to ask because it can lead to wars - I don't want wars I want understanding...  So perhaps it's best to point me to a Logos Specific resource which might provide some feedback on the point and purpose of the saints listed in the various lectionaries?

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 27 2011 2:39 PM

Thomas Black:

I note a great number of names of "saints" in the various lectionaries with them assigned to varied days.  ...

What's the point?

Think about the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament. The New Testament refers to people that they know the average Jewish person knows - Adam, Abraham, David. Similarly, there are Jewish feasts based on the stories of non-biblical or deuterocanonical heroes such as the Maccabees of Chanukah.

Or think about American holidays - Presidents' day which combined Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays, Martin Luther King day, Independence day, Labor day.

So I think you can guess for yourself why churches celebrate Reformation Sunday, the Feast of the Presentation (of Jesus in the Temple), the blessing of the boats, St. Francis of Assisi.

What's the origin?

The Hebrew feasts and human nature. This included repurposing of old feasts that people celebrated before they became Christian. (Think of Veterans day being repurposed from a WWI holiday)

Further reading?

saints, devotion to the

OOPS - I see that you modified the post to which I replied. I have edited the quote but left my answer because it does not appeal to a theological position but rather to human nature.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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